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Lilly diabetes drug meets late-stage goal

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Eli Lilly and Co.'s experimental injectable diabetes treatment dulaglutide fared on par in a late-stage study with another drug that's already on the market.

The Indianapolis drugmaker said Tuesday that a once-weekly, 1.5-milligram dose of dulaglutide was not inferior to a daily, 1.8 milligram dose of Novo Nordisk's Victoza in a study of nearly 600 patients who were already taking metformin, an older diabetes treatment. A non-inferior finding essentially means that the drug did not show superiority or inferiority to the other treatment. That determination was the main goal of the study.

The study measured blood sugar reductions for patients with type 2 diabetes. Lilly plans to present more details on that study and other trials involving dulaglutide later this year at scientific meetings.

The drugmaker has conducted six late-stage studies on dulaglutide and submitted it for marketing approval to regulators in both the United States and Europe. Lilly is counting on potential new drugs like this to help counter revenue hits it is taking due to the loss of patents protecting key products like the antidepressant Cymbalta from cheaper generic competition.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when the body doesn't properly produce or use the hormone insulin. Diabetes treatments represent a large slice of Lilly's product portfolio, which includes the insulins Humalog and Humulin.

Lilly shares climbed 30 cents to $58.33 in Tuesday morning trading, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell slightly.

The stock hit $58.90 on Monday, its highest price in in more than six years, according to FactSet.

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