Importance: Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists are effective therapies for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and are all currently available as an injection.
Objectives: To compare the effects of oral semaglutide with placebo (primary) and open-label subcutaneous semaglutide (secondary) on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Design, setting, and patients: Phase 2, randomized, parallel-group, dosage-finding, 26-week trial with 5-week follow-up at 100 sites (hospital clinics, general practices, and clinical research centers) in 14 countries conducted between December 2013 and December 2014. Of 1106 participants assessed, 632 with type 2 diabetes and insufficient glycemic control using diet and exercise alone or a stable dose of metformin were randomized. Randomization was stratified by metformin use.
Interventions: Once-daily oral semaglutide of 2.5 mg (n = 70), 5 mg (n = 70), 10 mg (n = 70), 20 mg (n = 70), 40-mg 4-week dose escalation (standard escalation; n = 71), 40-mg 8-week dose escalation (slow escalation; n = 70), 40-mg 2-week dose escalation (fast escalation, n = 70), oral placebo (n = 71; double-blind) or once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide of 1.0 mg (n = 70) for 26 weeks.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary end point was change in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) from baseline to week 26. Secondary end points included change from baseline in body weight and adverse events.
Results: Baseline characteristics were comparable across treatment groups. Of the 632 randomized patients (mean age, 57.1 years [SD, 10.6]; men, 395 (62.7%); diabetes duration, 6.3 years [SD, 5.2]; body weight, 92.3 kg [SD, 16.8]; BMI, 31.7 [SD, 4.3]), 583 (92%) completed the trial. Mean change in HbA1c level from baseline to week 26 decreased with oral semaglutide (dosage-dependent range, -0.7% to -1.9%) and subcutaneous semaglutide (-1.9%) and placebo (-0.3%); oral semaglutide reductions were significant vs placebo (dosage-dependent estimated treatment difference [ETD] range for oral semaglutide vs placebo, -0.4% to -1.6%; P = .01 for 2.5 mg, <.001 for all other dosages). Reductions in body weight were greater with oral semaglutide (dosage-dependent range, -2.1 kg to -6.9 kg) and subcutaneous semaglutide (-6.4 kg) vs placebo (-1.2 kg), and significant for oral semaglutide dosages of 10 mg or more vs placebo (dosage-dependent ETD range, -0.9 to -5.7 kg; P < .001). Adverse events were reported by 63% to 86% (371 of 490 patients) in the oral semaglutide groups, 81% (56 of 69 patients) in the subcutaneous semaglutide group, and 68% (48 of 71 patients) in the placebo group; mild to moderate gastrointestinal events were most common.
Conclusions and relevance: Among patients with type 2 diabetes, oral semaglutide resulted in better glycemic control than placebo over 26 weeks. These findings support phase 3 studies to assess longer-term and clinical outcomes, as well as safety.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01923181.