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Opko stock climbs as diabetes drug reduces blood sugar, weight in phase 2 study

Opko Health Inc.'s shares climbed over 8% after the company said its drug OPK88003 was better than placebo at reducing average blood glucose and weight in adults with type 2 diabetes and obesity in a mid-stage trial.

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The Miami-based biotechnology company evaluated the effect of increasing the dose of once-weekly injections of OPK88003 against placebo in 113 diabetes patients who had poor glucose control with metformin, a commonly prescribed generic drug.

The dose of OPK88003 was increased during the 30-week phase 2 study. For the first four weeks, patients were given 20 milligrams followed by 40 milligrams for the next four weeks and 70 milligrams for the remaining 22 weeks.

Half of the patients who received OPK88003 achieved average blood glucose levels of less than or equal to 6.5%, compared to 13.8% patients in the placebo arm. Reduction of 5% or greater in body weight was recorded for 38% of patients getting OPK88003 against 13% of patients treated with placebo.

According to the company's March 21 press release, Opko plans to conduct a phase 3 program to evaluate the drug in type 2 diabetes and obesity along with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a condition caused by the buildup of fat and inflammation in the liver.

Chairman and CEO Phillip Frost said the company will evaluate strategic options for the design of the phase 3 trials and potential commercialization.

Opko's stock was up by 8.5% to $2.67 on Nasdaq Global Select Market as of 1:49 p.m. ET. on March 21.

Opko plans to present the results of the phase 2 trial in June at the American Diabetes Association meeting in San Francisco.