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Lilly starts sales of combo treatment for diabetes

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Sales of a new combination pill used to help control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes will kick off this week, Eli Lilly and Co. said Wednesday.

Jentadueto combines Tradjenta and an older drug, metformin, in one tablet to be taken twice daily, according to the company. It is available by prescription in three strengths. U.S. regulators approved Jentadueto in January, but it has yet to receive European approval.

Lilly developed Tradjenta, also known as linagliptin, with German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim, and it received U.S. and European regulatory approval last year. Lilly and Boehringer entered an agreement last year to develop and sell up to five drugs, and Tradjenta was the first of those products.

Lilly, based in Indianapolis, is counting on its pipeline of drugs under development to help ease a revenue drop that will hit over the next few years due to the loss of U.S. patent protection for several key products. The company lost patent protection late last year for its all-time best selling drug, the antipsychotic Zyprexa. That exposed it to cheaper generic competition.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes. People with the disease have trouble breaking down carbohydrates because their bodies have become resistant to the protein insulin. They are at higher risk for heart attacks, kidney problems, blindness and other serious complications.