Vifor joins J&J in kidney disease for uphill Invokana push


Johnson & Johnson’s diabetes drug Invokana won an important new kidney disease approval recently – the first for an SGLT2 inhibitor – so Vifor’s decision to jump on board as a marketing partner in this setting makes sense. The Swiss firm is building up its hyperkalaemia product, Veltassa, and its sales force will now have another drug to sell to nephrologists. No terms were disclosed but presumably J&J will receive royalties; Invokana is losing share of the SGLT2 market and bringing on a motivated partner will not hurt. Invokana is in decline because it is the only SGLT2 inhibitor to carry an amputation risk warning, and even though this signal was not seen in the kidney disease trial the FDA retained a black box on the product’s label. Vifor must believe that this safety concern will not hold back use in this setting, though the sellside is certainly not predicting any uptick in sales – consensus for 2024 has been shaved by almost a third over the past 12 months, EvaluatePharma data show. With renal outcome studies from rivals due in the coming years, both J&J and Vifor need to work quickly to make the most of this opportunity.  

Selected renal outcomes studies with the SGLT2s
Product Company Study Setting Trial ID Primary completion
Invokana Johnson & Johnson Credence T2DM and CKD NCT02065791 Reported
Farxiga Astrazeneca Dapa-CKD Chronic kidney disease NCT03036150 Nov 2020
Zynquista Sanofi/Lexicon Scored T2DM and CKD NCT03315143 Mar 2022
Jardiance Lilly/Boehringer Ingelheim Empa-Kidney Chronic kidney disease NCT03594110 Jun 2022
Source: EvaluatePharma,

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