Background: Semaglutide is a novel glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue, suitable for once-weekly subcutaneous administration, in development for treatment of type 2 diabetes. We assessed the efficacy and safety of semaglutide versus the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor sitagliptin in patients with type 2 diabetes inadequately controlled on metformin, thiazolidinediones, or both.
Methods: We did a 56-week, phase 3a, randomised, double-blind, double-dummy, active-controlled, parallel-group, multinational, multicentre trial (SUSTAIN 2) at 128 sites in 18 countries. Eligible patients were aged at least 18 years (or at least 20 years in Japan) and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, with insufficient glycaemic control (HbA1c 7·0-10·5% [53·0-91·0 mmol/mol]) despite stable treatment with metformin, thiazolidinediones, or both. We randomly assigned participants (2:2:1:1) using an interactive voice or web response system to 56 weeks of treatment with subcutaneous semaglutide 0·5 mg once weekly plus oral sitagliptin placebo once daily, subcutaneous semaglutide 1·0 mg once weekly plus oral sitagliptin placebo once daily, oral sitagliptin 100 mg once daily plus subcutaneous semaglutide placebo 0·5 mg once weekly, or oral sitagliptin 100 mg once daily plus subcutaneous semaglutide placebo 1·0 mg once weekly. The two oral sitagliptin 100 mg groups (with semaglutide placebo 0·5 mg and 1·0 mg) were pooled for the analyses. The primary endpoint was change in HbA1c from baseline to week 56, assessed in the modified intention-to-treat population (all randomly assigned participants who received at least one dose of study drug); change in bodyweight from baseline to week 56 was the confirmatory secondary endpoint. Safety endpoints included adverse events and hypoglycaemic episodes. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01930188.
Findings: Between Dec 2, 2013, and Aug 5, 2015, we randomly assigned 1231 participants; of the 1225 included in the modified intention-to-treat analysis, 409 received semaglutide 0·5 mg, 409 received semaglutide 1·0 mg, and 407 received sitagliptin 100 mg. Mean baseline HbA1c was 8·1% (SD 0·93); at week 56, HbA1c was reduced by 1·3% in the semaglutide 0·5 mg group, 1·6% in the semaglutide 1·0 mg group, and 0·5% with sitagliptin (estimated treatment difference vs sitagliptin -0·77% [95% CI -0·92 to -0·62] with semaglutide 0·5 mg and -1·06% [-1·21 to -0·91] with semaglutide 1·0 mg; p<0·0001 for non-inferiority and for superiority, for both semaglutide doses vs sitagliptin). Mean baseline bodyweight was 89·5 kg (SD 20·3); at week 56, bodyweight reduced by 4·3 kg with semaglutide 0·5 mg, 6·1 kg with semaglutide 1·0 mg, and 1·9 kg with sitagliptin (estimated treatment difference vs sitagliptin -2·35 kg [95% CI -3·06 to -1·63] with semaglutide 0·5 mg and -4·20 kg [-4·91 to -3·49] with semaglutide 1·0 mg; p<0·0001 for superiority, for both semaglutide doses vs sitagliptin). The proportion of patients who discontinued treatment because of adverse events was 33 (8%) for semaglutide 0·5 mg, 39 (10%) for semaglutide 1·0 mg, and 12 (3%) for sitagliptin. The most frequently reported adverse events in both semaglutide groups were gastrointestinal in nature: nausea was reported in 73 (18%) who received semaglutide 0·5 mg, 72 (18%) who received semaglutide 1·0 mg, and 30 (7%) who received placebo, and diarrhoea was reported in 54 (13%) who received semaglutide 0·5 mg, 53 (13%) who received semaglutide 1·0 mg, and 29 (7%) who received placebo. Seven (2%) patients in the semaglutide 0·5 mg group, two (<1%) in the semaglutide 1·0 mg group, and five (1%) in the sitagliptin group had blood-glucose confirmed hypoglycaemia. There were six fatal events (two in the semaglutide 0·5 mg group, one in the semaglutide 1·0 mg group, and three in the sitagliptin group); none were considered likely to be related to the trial drugs.
Interpretation: Once-weekly semaglutide was superior to sitagliptin at improving glycaemic control and reducing bodyweight in participants with type 2 diabetes on metformin, thiazolidinediones, or both, and had a similar safety profile to that of other GLP-1 receptor agonists. Semaglutide seems to be an effective add-on treatment option for this patient population.
Funding: Novo Nordisk A/S.
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