Pharma’s race for obesity blockbuster.
- Current drugs suffer from bad reputation, side effects and limited success
- Existing diabetes drug could be effective treatment for world’s obese
Pharmaceutical companies are racing to find a new form of obesity drug as patient numbers spiral and current products suffer from poor efficacy and reputation, according to leading sector analyst, Datamonitor Healthcare.
Nearly 180 million people across the five major EU countries and US are classified as obese and this number is set to rise to just under 200 million by 2030. Numbers in the UK alone will reach 16 million by the end of the next decade.
Current drugs on the market act on the central nervous system to suppress appetite, but high-profile safety issues and low efficacy have plagued such drugs. Common adverse effects associated with these drugs include psychiatric disorders, such as suicidal behavior, depression, and cardiovascular problems.
A recent example is Abbott’s Meridia (sibutramine), which was withdrawn from the US market in 2010 due to an increased risk of serious heart conditions.
The race is now on to find a drug that does not act on the central nervous system and offers a safer, more efficacious, and tolerable mechanism of action.
Such a drug will meet a huge unmet need in obesity and will have the potential to achieve blockbuster status.
Leading the way is Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk with its drug Victoza (liraglutide; Novo Nordisk), which is currently undergoing regulatory scrutiny in the US and EU.
Christina Vasiliou, healthcare analyst at Datamonitor Healthcare says: “Victoza is familiar to physicians for its use in type 2 diabetes, where it has proven real-world efficacy in weight loss. This, combined with Novo Nordisk’s strength in global marketing means it has huge potential. Victoza’s only limitation is its subcutaneous administration route.”
*Five major EU countries = France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK