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Bristol diabetes drug yields improvements in study

The Associated Press

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said Tuesday that a diabetes drug it developed with fellow drugmaker AstraZeneca helped improve blood sugar levels and reduce body weight in patients already taking another treatment.

Bristol said the treatment, dapagliflozin, fared better than a placebo, or fake drug, in a late-stage study of patients with type 2 diabetes who were taking a combination of metformin plus sulfonylurea.

Patients taking the drug also saw blood pressure improvements after eight weeks compared to those taking a placebo.

Dapagliflozin, a once-a-day pill, was approved in the European Union last November, where it is known as Forxiga. The drug works independently of insulin to remove excess blood sugar from the body differently than other type 2 diabetes drugs.

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body either does not make enough insulin to break down the sugar in foods or uses insulin inefficiently. It can cause early death or serious complications like blindness, a stroke, kidney disease or heart disease when blood sugar climbs too high and damages organs and blood vessels. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease.

Demand for drugs that treat diabetes is climbing as rising instances of obesity are causing an explosion of diabetes cases globally.

The Food and Drug Administration accepted dapagliflozin for review in July and is expected to decide on the treatment by January. New York-based Bristol and London-based AstraZeneca had resubmitted the treatment after U.S. regulators had said in January 2012 they wouldn't approve it without more data.

Bristol-Myers shares finished at $46.55 in trading Monday.