This part of our EASD 2016 report is dedicated to the always-impressive exhibit hall. We visited 11 booths on the tech side and 14 booths on the diabetes drug and obesity side.
Of note in diabetes technology were Abbott (LibreLink app + free sensors), BD (MiniMed Pro set on display; now launched in the US), Diasend/Glooko (merged!), Medtronic (Guardian Connect mobile CGM demos), and Roche (new Insight CGM on display).
The major players in diabetes drugs – Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, Lilly, Lilly/BI, AstraZeneca, and Janssen – boasted abundant booths and terrific attendance. MSD’s booth celebrated the 10th anniversary of DPP-4 inhibitor Januvia (sitagliptin), while Takeda and Novartis made use of innovative design elements to call attention to their diabetes products.
See our complete coverage of the EASD 2016 exhibit hall below!
Exhibit Hall – Diabetes Technology
Upon entering the exhibit hall, Abbott’s setup immediately caught our eye with shiny yellow branding and a lengthy queue of excited attendees waiting to take home their very own (free) FreeStyle Libre sensors. The company also focused heavily on the LibreLink Android app (currently available in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and the UK) – as we arrived, a packed lecture about the app was just wrapping up in the middle of the exhibit, and the buzz was extremely positive as attendees filed out. The clever “You Can Do It” marketing campaign was extended to LibreLink: “Patients can do it with their phone,” featuring a cyclist happily swiping the Libre sensor. This is a very appealing campaign. Reps were very enthusiastic about the Lancet publication of data from the IMPACT trial and partnerships with mySugr and Social Diabetes (coverage here). In terms of presentation, one corner of the booth featured a touchscreen with rotating pictures of people and their accompanying testimonials about the Libre. Our personal favorite? “Just keep calm, flash and carry on!!” Reps did not have any FDA updates on FreeStyle Libre, though the Pro version was approved shortly after EASD and the real-time consumer version was submitted to FDA in August.
Ascensia’s futuristic, white booth mainly focused on the Contour Next One Bluetooth-enabled BGM – currently available in Switzerland and Poland, with more EU launches planned for later this year (it was cleared in May). We got to demo one of the meters ourselves (using sugary food coloring), and then explore the Contour app both in real life and in virtual reality. For the latter, a rep situated us in a sound-dampening egg-shaped chair and fitted us with VR glasses, and we were transported to what looked like a typical den, only with a giant floating app interface before us. We were led through the process of testing our blood glucose, logging a picture of the sushi that we had just “eaten,” and examining a trend graph. Cool! Even though the app hasn’t reached holographic status just yet in the real world, we still commend Ascensia for it’s easy-to-use interface.
BD’s showed off its most highly anticipated pipeline product (with partner Medtronic), the MiniMed Pro-set with BD FlowSmart technology – this was the first time we’ve seen it on European soil, and only the second time in an exhibit hall (following AADE last month). Reps maintained that the set is slated for a limited (at least 1,000 patients) launch in the US and France to collect user feedback, followed by a full-scale, global launch around December. [Read our coverage of the early October launch here and our initial test drive of the set here.]. New to us was the soon-to-be launched patient education website “BD and Me.” The site intends to “bring diabetes education to life” by offering eight online video courses on the newly released FITTER-based injection recommendations. This is excellent to see, as one of the main comments on the recent FITTER publications (Mayo Clinic Proceedings) noted the challenge of wide dissemination. There are so many learnings from FITTER that we think so many patients don’t know (as well as HCPs) so this should be very positive. Starting this December in the UK, and soon thereafter in other countries (eventually it will be global), providers will be able to refer patients to these video lessons for quick and easy instruction and refreshers – nice! In light of FITTER’s commentary on needle length and sharps disposal, the booth also had a demo table with the compelling AutoShield safety 4-mm pen needles – we continue to see this as an example of very meaningful “low tech” innovation that still makes a huge difference for patients.
Dexcom’s sported a small but busy booth with a lineup of iPhones displaying the G5 app. Handouts highlighted the positive CGM reimbursement decision in Germany (see our June coverage), though despite Dexcom’s press release last week (that was a bit confusing to us), we confirmed that the company still has to negotiate pricing and contract with payers – but hearing that it will be reimbursed in Germany was a massive win! Dexcom’s 2Q16 call noted that a revenue impact from German reimbursement won’t come until 2017, and we assume that is still the case. Nevertheless, this news has been referenced in many sessions at EASD and is a tremendous victory for the field in one of the world’s most challenging reimbursement environments. In short, it is a statement that says CGM is cost-effective, and hopefully a sign of more positive things to come in other markets. Abbott’s cash-pay FreeStyle Libre has done very well in Germany, an indication that demand is high for easy and convenient and discreet glucose sensing and eliminating fingersticks. This positive decision for CGM will clearly expand the German market, and we look forward to seeing the size of its impact on Dexcom’s still fairly small international sales base (~13% of sales in 2Q16 – so much room for upside!).
This booth boasted the major tech news of the day: Diasend has merged with Glooko to form a unified company under the Glooko name and headed by Glooko CEO Rick Altinger. The two Diasend reps and one Glooko rep at the booth were up for discussing the merger, which was great – it is aimed at building the “World’s Premier Diabetes Management Platform.” The merger is incredibly symbiotic in nature in our view: Diasend brings existing integration with 140+ devices, a sizable global footprint (23 countries), and reimbursement expertise in a wide variety of markets, while Glooko brings strong user interface, great data analytics and reporting, and population tracking. See our detailed thoughts on the merger and an interview with the Glooko and Diasend teams.
The tiny booth sported the recently launched Bluetooth-enabled, reusable Esysta connected pen. According to the rep, the pen is reimbursed by insurance in Germany, though the cash pay price is very expensive: 192 euros for a single pen and 616 euros (!) for a pen and meter. The company says it works with any insulin, as plastic adaptors convert any insulin cartridge to fit in the pen. We thought these were clunky and did not find them confidence inspiring (picture below). The button on the pen was more difficult to press down than manual pens, though we liked that the dose calculator gave a countdown timer on screen. We are elated to see more interest in Bluetooth-enabled pens, though are not confident that Emperra is the real deal at this stage. See our October coverage of Patients Pending’s Timesulin Dose Capture device for a smart pen/cap landscape review.
New to us, Korea-based EOFlow showed off a disposable patch pump, EOPatch. It looks similar in size to the original OmniPod and communicates with a snappier looking handheld touchscreen controller. According to the company’s two-line press release last week, the pump has been submitted for verification and validation and will be available “in the global market in 2017.” The on-body patch and handheld do have Bluetooth and can communicate with CGM. According to the EOFlow’s website, the company started at a university incubation center in Seoul, Korea in 2011. The booth and website are not confidence inspiring, though we’ll be interested to see if the product is indeed commercialized. The pump market is very competitive and not for the faint of heart …
We stopped by the Inside Biometrics booth to have a first look at the Bluetooth-enabled Keya Smart System, a meter that measures both blood glucose and ketone levels using the same strip. The device is about the size of a pack of cards (see picture below), has a very easy-to-use interface, and functions like a normal BGM, but alerts operators when their ketones are high. It received a CE mark back in May, and a UK launch is expected by the end of the year, with Germany to follow soon thereafter. FDA clearance is expected next year, though it has not yet been filed. Reps told us that the company has an existing integration agreement with Diasend (now merged with Glooko), and is working on an app that would offer actionable analytics – they seemed particularly excited about this because so little is known about the interactions between glucose and ketone levels. When asked about the possibility of a flash or continuous monitoring system, reps told us to keep an eye out for gen 2. Inside Biometrics will soon be ramping up, growing their team from ~45 to ~60 people, outsourcing manufacturing of the meter (but not the strips), and establishing a branch in California. BGM is a very tough market for startups, but we are happy to see some novel innovation and a product that could conveniently address DKA – most patients don’t even know what their ketone levels should be, let alone have the supplies to measure them – and the issue is important as SGLT-2s are used in type 1. We like the convenience of a normal meter that can measure ketones in the background, reducing the hassle of Abbott’s Precision Xtra meter that requires separate strips.
- Reps were thrilled with the reception from the EASD crowd. The small booth was frequently busy, Dr. Lutz Heinemann gave the meter a shoutout during an oral session, and the reps related that some unspecified pharma companies had asked them if they could perform a trial with the meter, while other companies approached them with hopes of assisting in the development of the app.
We first saw Kaleido at last year’s EASD, and the company received a CE Mark earlier this year. The very colorful patch pump is expected to launch in the Netherlands and UK by the end of this year. The approach resembles Cellnovo, giving patients two reusable pump units, a wireless controller handheld, and an insulin cartridge that connects to a short on-body infusion set (5 cm or 30 cm). Unlike Cellnovo or the OmniPod, the handheld doesn’t have a built-in blood glucose meter, though the company recently added a bolus calculator. The body-worn pump and iPod-like handheld are both quite slim (measurements here), and the company has put a major emphasis on customizable color offerings. This is direct competition for Cellnovo, who has had a fairly slowly launch ramp in Europe.
Medtronic’s booth focused overwhelmingly on demoing Guardian Connect, it’s CE Marked Bluetooth-enabled, standalone CGM. Reps said the product will launch in Europe in mid-November, on the very early side of the updated timing shared in the 2Q16 call (~Nov 2016-Jan 2017). The booth had scores of Apple devices running the Guardian Connect iOS app, which has a very clean interface and design that will give Dexcom’s G5 a competitive run for its money. We learned that the Bluetooth-enabled transmitter will backfill up to eight hours of data if the phone is out of range, on par with FreeStyle Libre (and well ahead of G5, which does not backfill data at this point). The Guardian Connect app will launch initially on iOS in Europe with a “Today View” widget (swipe down from the home screen to view data – essential for patient convenience in our view), though it will not initially post to HealthKit or have a Watch app. “Care Partners” will be able to get customizable text message notifications for out-of-range values, including predicted lows and highs. As a reminder, this will launch with Enlite 2 (Enlite Enhanced) outside the US; the US version of Guardian Connect with Enlite 3 is currently under FDA review, with launch expected by April 2017. The MiniMed 640G – now available for more than a year outside the US – was a minor part of the booth, but still drew some interest from curious attendees. Patients on the 640G we’ve run into here absolutely love it, and it has certainly shown in Medtronic’s recent international revenue performance.
China-based POCTech was back again at this EASD with more bold claims, advertising a seven-day, Bluetooth-enabled CGM requiring just one calibration per day. A handout boasted a 9.6% MARD vs. fingersticks in a 73-patient study in two medical centers – there were not enough study details listed to know if the trial was robust, though we assume it was not based on the sparse information and amateur handout. The product actually has a CE Mark in Europe, though the company has resubmitted to update the transmitter to add Bluetooth (approval expected by end of year). The company is seeking a European partner to go to market following approval. The CGM is under review in China for use in the hospital, though the rep said it is 6+ months away from approval (behind the EASD 2015 expectation for Chinese approval by the end of 2016).
We were delighted to see Roche demoing its soon-to-launch Accu-Chek Insight CGM, branded as “the 7th sense that helps your patients get it right.” Insight is currently in CE Mark approval trials and on track to launch in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Norway by the end of the year (see our Day #1 coverage). This initial limited launch will occur at specialized diabetes centers and last 6-9 months so that Roche can gather feedback before fully rolling it out in more countries in 2017. We wonder if this will also give time for manufacturing to scale. In person, the on-body transmitter appeared bulky to us (roughly ~2x the size of Dexcom’s G5), and the single-use inserter was a little intimidating (though reps cited data suggesting otherwise). The preliminary accuracy data presented at EASD, however, was encouraging (MARD: 10.5%), and it will be interesting to see how uptake goes in the increasingly competitive EU market (Abbott FreeStyle Libre, Dexcom G5, Medtronic’s 640G and upcoming Guardian Connect, Senseonics Eversense). Roche’s Bluetooth-paired app is, at the moment, limited to a dedicated Android phone solely used for the Insight CGM, which is obviously a complete hassle – reps noted that this is only temporary, and iOS and Android apps should be available by the end of the year. The CGM data will not sync with mySugr at launch, but it will eventually if all goes as planned.
- Roche also showed off the Smart Pix software, a platform to visualize and analyze Insight CGM data. The display contains an AGP-like trace, and a CGM traffic light system that indicates degree of success in a number of categories pertinent to glycemic control over a two-week period. Smart Pix also has what looked like a standard high/low pattern-recognition feature. A rep commented that pilot users’ only complaint was that other meters won’t integrate with it.
Ypsomed’s expansive green booth deftly balanced demos of the tubeless mylife OmniPod and its own touchscreen durable YpsoPump. According to the rep, the YpsoPump is currently launching in the Netherlands and UK, with Germany expected later this year – this is right on with the timing shared in June when the pump received EMA approval for use with Novo Nordisk’s NovoRapid prefilled insulin cartridges. We had a chance to demo the pump and speak with a patient using it, and both experiences left us positive on the key features: (i) prefilled NovoRapid insulin cartridges for faster set changes (about 15 seconds to load and prime); (ii) touchscreen (capacitive) with an OLED display that is easy to see in the dark; (iii) a fully icon-driven display that has no words (language neutral for Europe); (iv) very light weight (83 g) and small size in the hand; and (v) built-in Bluetooth. Read our full list here of the pump’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Exhibit Hall – Drugs
AstraZeneca’s sizeable maroon and gold booth was certainly one of the exhibit hall’s most interactive displays. At one corner, an artist stood before a crowd of people, sprinkling white sugar over a glass panel and, in a clever play on the pharmacological idea of glucose removal, effortlessly whisked the sugar away to create elaborate designs. Adjacent to this was a popular game involving detailed figurines of patients that visitors could place on a high-tech glass table, which would light up to reveal that individual’s unique diabetes profile, as well as how they could benefit from AZ’s selection of diabetes drugs. Approximately equal square footage was dedicated to the SGLT-2 inhibitor Forxiga (dapagliflozin), the DPP-4 inhibitor Onglyza (saxagliptin), and the GLP-1 agonist Bydureon (exenatide once weekly), with some mention of Xigduo (dapagliflozin/metformin) and the anti-platelet drug Brilique (ticagrelor) as well. Across the booth, beneath a commanding archway entirely composed of flatscreens panning through the logos of AZ’s impressive lineup of diabetes and cardiovascular therapies, was a bustling coffee bar and lounge area. Signage declared AZ’s excitement about its “next wave of scientific innovation” – a nod to the company’s impressive lineup of emerging diabetes therapies, including the antiplatelet agent Brilinta (ticagrelor), the phase 1/2 PCSK9 inhibitor/GLP-1 agonist combination MEDI4166, and a saxagliptin/dapagliflozin fixed-dose combination (just approved in Europe under the trade name Qtern). Furthermore, colorful dangling panels declared AZ’s commitment to “understanding the cardiovascular and renal profile” of diabetes specifically. This is certainly a timely message at what promises to be a CVOT and renal outcomes-heavy EASD, and in an era when diabetes drugs must offer benefits beyond glycemic reductions in order to set themselves apart.
GI Dynamics occupied a small booth near one edge of the exhibit hall. A large painting as well as two 3D models displayed how the EndoBarrier therapy for obesity acts on the stomach. Three clinical effects of EndoBarrier relevant to the treatment of both diabetes and obesity were listed on the wall: (i) restores healthy glycemic levels; (ii) produces significant weight loss; (iii) lessens cardiovascular risk. Many different informational handouts were also available, including one that described EndoBarrier as the first endoscopically-delivered treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity. The obesity market is challenging and we wish it were easier for companies doing the very hard work to try to help patients on this front.
GSK’s booth was small and off to a side wall of the exhibit hall. The entire booth was essentially a medical affairs stand with no outright promotion of the company’s one diabetes product, GLP-1 agonist Tanzeum (albiglutide).
Intarcia’s booth featured two stations demonstrating implantation of the company’s Medici subcutaneous osmotic mini-pump drug delivery system (the device used to deliver a continuous stream of GLP-1 agonist exenatide in the company’s phase 3 ITCA 650). In between these two stations, a spinning, lighted glass case showcased the matchstick-sized mini-pump. The booth with its intriguing demonstration and bold, colorful graphic designs drew a steady stream of curious attendees. It’s clear that Intarcia’s booth is very much focused on attracting potential partners for future applications of the Medici system: the back wall of the booth stated that the company is looking to identify proteins, peptides, antibody fragments, and “other high potency small molecules” suitable for delivery via the system – this is very exciting from our view. Interestingly, the materials also emphasized that the company is particularly interested in oncology, inflammatory diseases, and metabolic disorders (in that order) – we’re a little surprised that oncology would come first in promotional materials at a diabetes conference, though perhaps it is not too surprising that the company is looking to diversify beyond diabetes given the current challenging payer environment and high bar for new diabetes drugs – this is all speculative at this point. There has never been higher interest in increasing adherence and all eyes are on Intarcia as it moves toward regulatory approval.
Like last year, Janssen’s tile-floored exhibit emphasized clinical data showing SGLT-2 inhibitor Invokana’s (canagliflozin) superiority over DPP-4 inhibitor Januvia (sitagliptin). These results and claims were displayed prominently – superior A1c reductions vs. sitagliptin, greater improvements in blood pressure and weight loss vs. sitagliptin, well-tolerated with low frequency of hypoglycemia (~4% of patients treated with Invokana as monotherapy or with Invokana added on to metformin as dual therapy). The exhibit also featured interactive iPads and bright monitors with patient stories on both Invokana and Invokamet (canagliflozin/metformin), calling on people to “change the conversation” surrounding diabetes. Overall, Janssen didn’t seem to deviate very much from what we’ve seen of the company’s exhibit hall presence at other recent conferences, whether US-based or international, although there was less overt promotion of the Check Your Numbers Tracker App compared to ADA 2016 and AADE 2016.
Lilly’s large booth was summed up by the large projection of the tagline “A wide range of therapies” projected on the back wall of the booth, just behind the popular espresso bar – indeed, they have the broadest portfolio around! Approaching the booth, the space was flanked with sections devoted to its GLP-1 agonist once weekly Trulicity (dulaglutide) and its BI-partnered SGLT-2 inhibitor Jardiance (empagliflozin), followed by sections devoted to BI-partnered basal insulin Abasaglar (biosimilar insulin glargine), BI-partnered DPP-4 inhibitor Trajenta (linagliptin), and mealtime insulin Humalog, finally culminating in sections devoted to support programs for type 1 diabetes and observational studies. The Jardiance, Trajenta, and Abasaglar sections were essentially miniaturized versions of their space in the Lilly/BI joint booth next door (see below). The purple-and-green Trulicity section evoked the colors of the products extremely patient-friendly IDEO-designed pen while the Humalog section emphasized the product’s 20 years (!) on the market. We were particularly impressed by the “Streetwise” educational materials within the “Support for Type 1 Diabetes” section aimed at young adults living with diabetes – the pamphlets touched on a wide range of topics from exercise and traveling with diabetes to body piercings/tattoos, drinking, and emotional well-being with diabetes. We think the Trulicity app is really something and expect to see it highlighted more in the future.
Lilly/BI’s joint booth featured its signature wood-paneled rustic-chic aesthetic in full force – complete with long communal wood picnic tables in which participants could rest on their “hike” through the partnership’s diabetes products. The booth was anchored on one side by biosimilar insulin glargine Abasaglar and on the other by the Jardiance (empagliflozin) SGLT-2 inhibitor and the Trajenta (linagliptin) DPP-4 inhibitor franchises. On the Abasaglar side, Lilly/BI likened insulin initiation to an airplane flight, extolling the virtues of an Abasaglar patient support kit – with injection guides and other educational materials – to ease the “turbulence” of insulin initiation. Further playing on this theme, the area featured several colorful suitcases with stuffed baby animals (the area also featured large pictures of baby animals and the inviting opener “Now that we’ve got your attention…”) and with clinical trial findings on how to ease the anxieties surrounding insulin initiation that many patients face. On the other side, the section devoted to Jardiance and combination Synjardy (empagliflozin/metformin) featured a beanbag toss game highlighting the connection between diabetes and cardiovascular events. The Trajenta and Jentadueto (linagliptin/metformin) section featured futuristic virtual reality headsets (these seem to be popping up everywhere in exhibit halls!) with which participants “walked” through a landscape with pop-up text emphasizing the products’ administration simplicity and its effectiveness at different stages of renal function.
MSD’s exhibit very much celebrated the 10th anniversary of DPP-4 inhibitor Januvia (sitagliptin), first introduced in 2006. One large wall proudly announced this 10th anniversary and in bold, eye-catching text, emphasized our extensive experience with Januvia as well as the product’s reliable safety profile. Curving teal carpets surrounded a round hardwood floor at the center of the company’s large, open space. The exhibit featured informational handouts on what it means to be an incretin-enhancer, among other topics, and the slogan “Support your patient with confidence. Choose Januvia first as a partner to metformin.” The highlight of MSD’s booth was a high-tech, hologram-like display in one corner explaining how incretins relate to the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes. We weren’t surprised that the company (Merck’s international equivalent) chose to underscore familiarity and safety as advantages to Januvia, especially with many other exhibits comparing products from newer drug classes to sitagliptin. We were interested by the offering of more general, scientific background on incretin-based drugs (which includes both DPP-4 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists). There is great interest in Merck’s work ahead with Pfizer on the SGLT-2 and DPP-4/SGLT-2 combination fronts.
Mylan boasted a decently-sized booth, swathed in the company’s typical light blue and white color scheme. As a nod to EASD’s thematic emphasis on the cardiovascular complications of diabetes, the booth’s signage was mostly dedicated to Mylan’s cardiovascular drugs, including Lipanthyl (fenofibrate) and Cholib (fenofibrate/simvastatin) for cholesterol and Verapamil (isoptin) for hypertension. To signify the company’s impending entrance into the diabetes arena, touchscreen displays featured descriptions of the INSTRIDE 1 andINSTRIDE 2 trials of Biocon-partnered biosimilar insulin glargine in type 1 and 2 diabetes showing that the trial met its primary and secondary endpoints. If approved, this biosimilar insulin glargine will be the third-to-market biosimilar insulin glargine in the US. We were disappointed to see no trace of Mylan’s Biocon-partnered development programs for oral Insulin Tregopil, biosimilar insulin aspart (Novo Nordisk’s NovoLog), or biosimilar insulin lispro (Lilly’s Humalog). The periphery of the booth was occupied by towering signs showing images of the diverse range of patients taking Mylan’s drugs. “How do we care for 7 billion people? One person at a time,” the panels read. While some Americans speculated that this strong, patient-centric messaging may be a strategy to rebuild the company’s reputation in the aftermath of the recent outrage over the pricing of Mylan’s EpiPen, we doubt this given the timing needed to create this material – on the other hand, they certainly need something to help. We think patient outrage over pricing generally speaking is only going to become further intensified.
Novartis divided its expansive exhibit into one half dedicated to DPP-4 inhibitor Galvus (vildagliptin) and the other focused on Lucentis (intravitreal ranibizumab) – though the latter was far flashier. The company promoted its diabetic macular edema drug alongside ViaOpta DETECT, a platform to enable early identification of eye complications and referral of patients for timely intervention. A slogan for the platform was featured prominently: collaborate, educate, screen, refer. Notably, by putting on black goggles, you could partake in a virtual reality experience, seeing the world as someone with diabetic retinopathy would. Meanwhile, a large monitor showed what the person in virtual reality was seeing. This attraction drew much attention from conference attendees walking through the exhibit hall, who then stayed to learn more about the fight to preserve vision through interactive monitors and colorful displays. In fact, the crowd at Novartis’ exhibit rivaled that of Novo Nordisk directly adjacent. While more understated, the side of the booth dedicated to DPP-4 inhibitor Galvus was also highly interactive. Patient case stories emphasized the message that when time is running out, patients with diabetes should turn to Galvus. The dominant image of an hourglass on the wall was a powerful, memorable reminder of the time theme.
Novo Nordisk’s commanding booth dominated the exhibit hall, in terms of both attendance and square footage. Approximately equal space was dedicated to Tresiba (basal insulin degludec), Xultophy (insulin degludec/liraglutide), and Victoza (liraglutide), each of which boasted a semi-circular theater area with low slung white benches, a large touchscreen display, and a color-coordinated team of Novo Nordisk representatives giving an interactive presentation on each drug’s efficacy, action profile, and dosing information (all three had a line of physicians waiting to be seated!). The green Tresiba displays advertised the drug’s ability to “get A1c down with control,” a notion that was echoed in the imagery of parachutes “falling” along with A1c. The bright pink Xultophy displays framed the drug as “a step further with one injection per day,” itemizing three of the new drug’s most important benefits: (i) easy; (ii) confident drug delivery ratios; and (iii) preferred by patients.” It’s smart in our view to emphasize composite benefits – that worked very well for liraglutide when building the GLP-1 market (Victoza is now Novo Nordisk’s biggest product!) The emphasis on Tresiba and Xultophy reflects Novo Nordisk’s clear enthusiasm for its new arrivals, but Victoza received a great deal of attention as well. Sleek maroon signage emphasized Victoza’s status as the “most prescribed GLP-1 agonist” and, perhaps as a nod to the increasing competition in the GLP-1 space, highlighted its “seven years of experience” on the market.
Sanofi’s sleek, white and green booth was one of the exhibit hall’s largest and most well-attended. As was true at recent conferences and last year’s EASD, Toujeo (insulin glargine U300) was the clear focal point, dominating 90% of the booth’s square footage. Signage reminded the booth’s visitors that Toujeo has a “more stable and prolonged action profile than Lantus,” subtly encouraging physicians to switch their patients from the dominant (and off-patent) Lantus to a regimen involving the similar but more advanced Toujeo. We certainly continue to hear great enthusiasm for both Toujeo as well as Novo Nordisk’s next-gen basal insulins. Sanofi’s booth functioned as a thriving social space, with modern white workstations bustling with physicians and a packed movie theater area showing a short film titled “The Challenge,” depicting a group of people with diabetes on a rugged, five-day mountain climbing expedition. Wow! The story was intended to parallel the challenge of combatting diabetes stigma – a message that certainly resonated with us! Two small podiums at the very edge of the booth highlighted Lantus (insulin glargine) and Lyxumia (lixisenatide), but these drugs are clearly not the emphasis of Sanofi’s EASD advertising campaign, presumably due to Lantus’ patent expiry and the fact that Lyxumia is not available in Germany.
Regeneron displayed a decently-sized booth near the entrance to the exhibit hall, dedicated entirely to its PCSK9 inhibitor Praluent (alirocumab). A small crowd was clustered in the booth’s intimate seating area, surrounded by towering, six foot tall statues of blue and green arrows, pointed down toward the ground to parallel Praluent’s LDL cholesterol-lowering action. Signage surrounding the booth’s perimeter emphasized Praluent’s efficacy and ease of use, posting large statistics boasting the drug’s “more than 60% LDL reduction” and the fact that “up to 80% of patients achieved their goal” when taking Praluent. With an eye toward personalization, Regeneron’s advertisements also emphasized the fact that Praluent comes in two different pens, a 75 mg/dl dose and a 150 mg/dl dose for “more power if you need it.”
Takeda’s booth stood out at this year’s exhibit hall, with its playful puzzle theme and emphasis on the patient’s point of view. Colorful puzzle pieces – red, purple, neon green – were suspended from the ceiling. Conference attendees were invited to align their feet with footprints on the carpet to symbolize adopting a patient’s perspective, and from that angle exactly, you could see that four hanging puzzle pieces together made-up a photograph of a patient’s smiling face. The company seemed to be highlighting its investment in fulfilling the most pressing patient needs with DPP-4 inhibitor Vipidia (alogliptin, Nesina in the US), Vipdomet (alogliptin/metformin, Kazano in the US), and Incresync (alogliptin/pioglitazone, Oseni in the US). On-theme, even the coffee break tables within the exhibit were shaped like puzzle pieces, and a catchy slogan for Vipidia read “Every piece counts.”
-- by Adam Brown, Abigail Dove, Helen Gao, Brian Levine, Payal Marathe, and Kelly Close