The European Commission has granted marketing authorisation for GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) once-weekly diabetes treatment, Eperzan (albiglutide).

The drug is indicated for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults, to improve glucose control as monotherapy, when diet and exercise alone do not provide adequate glycaemic control in patients for whom the use of metformin is considered inappropriate due to contraindications or intolerance.

Eperzan is also used as an add-on combination therapy, in combination with other glucose-lowering medicinal products, including basal insulin, when these, together with diet and exercise, do not provide adequate glycaemic control, reports Pharmaceutical Business Review.

GSK senior vice-president and head of Global Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Neurosciences (CVM&NS) Franchise Vlad Hogenhuis said diabetes treatment can be challenging for healthcare professionals and patients, often involving complex daily regimens, with almost 50% of patients failing to meet their blood glucose targets.

"The authorisation of albiglutide means that healthcare professionals and patients will have access to a new once-weekly treatment option that has shown effective blood glucose lowering with durable control and is generally well tolerated," Hogenhuis said.

Albiglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, which is an important incretin hormone that helps normalise blood glucose levels but, in people with type 2 diabetes, its production is reduced or absent.

GSK plans to launch albiglutide in several countries in Europe in the third or fourth quarter of 2014 with additional launches to follow.