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Merck, Pfizer's diabetes treatment meets primary endpoint in 2 phase 3 trials

Merck & Co. Inc. and Pfizer Inc.'s oral investigational drug ertugliflozin met its primary endpoint of improving glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Ertugliflozin belongs to a new class of diabetes medicines called SGLT-2 inhibitors and it was being investigated in separate phase 3 studies in combination with metformin or januvia.

Metformin is a standard type 2 diabetes drug sold under different brand names, including Fortamet and Glucophage, while Merck's januvia is indicated as an adjunct to diet and exercise to control type 2 diabetes.

The first study demonstrated that patients treated with ertugliflozin and metformin achieved a statistically significant reduction in blood sugar levels compared to a combination of placebo and metformin.

The second study showed that initial combination therapy of ertugliflozin and januvia led to greater reductions in average blood sugar level when compared to placebo alone.

The studies also showed significant reductions in fasting plasma glucose, body weight and systolic blood pressure — the same benefits showed by other SGLT-2 inhibitors such as AstraZeneca PLC's Farxiga, Johnson & Johnson's Invokana and Eli Lilly & Co. and Boehringer Ingelheim Corp.'s Jardiance.

Ertugliflozin continues to be studied in additional phase 3 trials.