The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Eli Lilly, Merck and Johnson & Johnson

CHICAGO, Dec. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO), Sanofi (NYSE: SNY), Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY), Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Novo Progresses with Pipeline

Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) recently completed a phase IIIa study on IDegLira, which is a combination of Tresiba (insulin degludec) and Victoza (liraglutide). Novo Nordisk is evaluating IDegLira for the treatment of patients suffering from type II diabetes.

The phase III study (DUAL II) enrolled around 400 patients suffering from type II diabetes and previously insufficiently controlled on basal insulin in combination with 1–2 oral anti-diabetic agents. The study results showed that patients treated with IDegLira or Tresiba plus metformin achieved superiority compared to standalone therapy with Tresiba.

The study revealed that around 60% of the patients who used IDegLira achieved the HbA1c target of 7% (recommended by the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes). Moreover, 45% of the patients reached the HbA1c target of 6.5% (recommended by the American Academy of Clinical Endocrinology).

Both IDegLira and Tresiba have been reported safe and tolerable. Novo Nordisk did not report any disparity between the two treatment arms as to adverse reactions and normal safety parameters.

We note that Novo Nordisk had announced results from the first phase IIIa trial of IDegLira, DUAL I, in August this year, which demonstrated an impressive efficacy profile. Novo Nordisk now plans to file regulatory applications in both the US and the EU in 2013.

Although Novo Nordisk holds a strong position in the diabetes market, we note that the diabetes market is highly crowded with players like Sanofi (NYSE: SNY), Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) and Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK).

We have an Outperform recommendation on Denmark-based Novo Nordisk. The stock carries a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy). Other large cap pharma company, that carry a Zacks #2 Rank is Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

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