Type 2 diabetes: Roche says its weekly drug works better than Merck's daily one

Melly Alazraki

The $5 billion U.S. diabetes drug market just got a little more competitive. Swiss drugmaker Roche (RHHBY) said Wednesday an experimental medicine in late-stage development works better in treating type 2 diabetes than Merck (MRK) Januvia, according to a clinical study.

Roche licensed taspoglutide, which can be taken just once a week, from French drugmaker Ipsen in 2006. Now, it says, the weekly treatment showed superior reduction of HbA1c -- a measure of blood-glucose levels -- against a dummy pill or placebo in one of the studies. The company also said another study showed its drug reduced blood-glucose levels better than sitagliptin, the generic name for Merck's diabetes drug Januvia, which must be taken daily.