Spotlighting link between type 2 diabetes and heart disease

St. Luke’s partners with Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly on ‘For Your Sweetheart’

Jeffrey Bouley
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ALLENTOWN, Pa.—Recently, St. Luke’s University Health Network announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Co. to deliver resources from For Your SweetHeart: Where diabetes and heart disease meet, which is a nationwide movement to raise awareness of the critical connection between type 2 diabetes and heart disease, to more 200 facilities and 60,000 people served by the organization annually.
As for the pairing of corporate partners by St. Luke’s, it should be noted that in January 2011, Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly themselves joined hands on diabetes, announcing an alliance that centers on compounds representing several of the largest diabetes treatment classes, to “demonstrate commitment in the care of patients with diabetes and stand together to focus on patient needs.”
“St. Luke’s University Health Network is proud to continue our mission of improving patient education and care by collaborating with Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly on this important initiative to encourage people with type 2 diabetes to learn more about their heart disease risk,” said Dr. Bankim Bhatt, St. Luke’s chief of endocrinology. “By providing relevant, educational resources about the connection between type 2 diabetes and heart disease to our community, we hope to empower people with type 2 diabetes and their loved ones to speak with their healthcare providers and to take action.”
For Your SweetHeart launched in November 2016 following a survey that found more than half (52 percent) of adults with type 2 diabetes do not understand they are at an increased risk for heart disease and related life-threatening events such as stroke. In partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly, St. Luke’s University Health Network will offer community educational classes and events with leading specialists to further spread awareness of this important link.
“Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. are living with diabetes, and many of them do not know they are at an increased risk of experiencing heart-related complications,” said Jean-Michel Boers, president of Human Pharma at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. “We are thrilled to partner with health organizations, such as St. Luke’s University Health Network, to reach people in their local communities with the For Your SweetHeart message and mission, to raise awareness and encourage action to reduce the risk of heart disease among people with diabetes.”
As it happens, just a day before this announcement, Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly had relevant drug-related news in this area, too. Specifically, they presented new data showing that Jardiance reduced the risk of cardiovascular death compared with placebo when added to standard of care in adults with type 2 diabetes and peripheral artery disease. These results came from a post-hoc analysis of the landmark EMPA-REG OUTCOME trial and were shared as an oral presentation on behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2017 in Anaheim, Calif., and simultaneously published online in the AHA’s journal, Circulation.
“Peripheral artery disease, one of the most common cardiovascular complications associated with type 2 diabetes, increases the risk of death from cardiovascular causes,” said Dr. Subodh Verma, cardiac surgeon-scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and professor at the University of Toronto. “There is an urgent need for treatment options that can improve cardiovascular-related outcomes in people with type 2 diabetes and peripheral artery disease.”
Approximately one in three people with diabetes over the age of 50 has peripheral artery disease, a narrowing of the arteries outside the heart, usually those leading to the arms, legs and feet, due to a buildup of fatty deposits. Peripheral artery disease can be life-threatening when blockages restrict circulation, causing damage to limbs, and can also be associated with damage to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys and brain. If peripheral artery disease is not managed properly, it can also lead to amputation, which may result in hospitalization, disability and death.
At study start, 21 percent of the more than 7,000 EMPA-REG OUTCOME trial participants had existing peripheral artery disease. The analysis in this patient population showed that compared with placebo, on top of standard of care: Jardiance reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by 43 percent; death from any cause was reduced by 38 percent and hospitalization for heart failure by 44 percent; risk for the composite endpoint of cardiovascular death, non-fatal heart attack or non-fatal stroke was reduced by 16 percent; new or worsening kidney disease, known as nephropathy, was reduced by 46 percent; and, overall, the cardiovascular and renal effects observed in patients with peripheral artery disease were consistent with previously reported results of the overall trial population in EMPA-REG OUTCOME.
And while it isn’t heart-related, Boehringer Ingelheim had some other recent diabetes news in September related to the vascular part of the cardiovascular system, noting that it had initiated the Phase 2a study ROBIN, which marks the beginning of the clinical development program for BI 1467335 in a second indication targeting a severe diabetes complication. An already ongoing Phase 2 clinical study program is investigating the compound in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. BI 1467335 is an oral inhibitor of amine oxidase, copper containing 3.

Jeffrey Bouley

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