Embargoed for release: Sunday, Aug. 22, 6:30 p.m., Eastern Time
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The script for two research teams inducted today into the American Chemical Society (ACS) scientific “hall of fame” — the ACS Heroes of Chemistry — is a tale of two pills. One team invented a medication that helps people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. The second team invented a medicine that helps people stop smoking, an addiction that experts regard as today’s single greatest preventable cause of death worldwide.
The first team of Heroes — Nancy Thornberry, Ann Weber, Ph.D., and Joseph D. Armstrong III, Ph.D. — played key roles in discovering and developing JANUVIA® (sitagliptin), a diabetes medicine that enhances the body’s own ability to regulate blood sugar levels. JANUVIA® treats type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 24 million people in the United States and hundreds of millions worldwide. The trio of scientists work for Merck & Co., Inc., maker of JANUVIA®.
The second team of Heroes — Jotham Coe, Ph.D., and Brian O’Neill, Ph.D. — discovered CHANTIX® (varenicline), which is a prescription aid to smoking cessation for adults 18 and over. CHANTIX® is the first product specifically designed for smoking cessation, and at the time of its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) it was the first smoking cessation product to enter the market in almost 10 years. CHANTIX is a non-nicotine medication that helps address the physical side of quitting smoking by reducing the urge to smoke. In clinical trials, 44 percent of smokers who took CHANTIX quit smoking versus 18 percent taking placebo during weeks 9 through 12 of treatment. Patients in these trials also received counseling.
The 2010 Heroes of Chemistry will be honored on Aug. 22 in Boston during the 240th National Meeting of the ACS, the world’s largest scientific society. The awards ceremony takes place at the Liberty Hotel, 215 Charles Street, Boston, Mass., 02114. It includes a reception that begins at 6:30 p.m., Eastern Time, followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m.