The weight loss drug market may soon get more crowded. Here are the companies trying to enter the booming space

Still lifetime of Wegovy an injectable prescription weight loss drugs that has helped folks with weight problems. It must be used with a weight loss plan and bodily exercise. 

Michael Siluk | UCG | Getty Images

Drugmakers have been scrambling to be a part of a two-horse race to lead the market for popular weight loss drugs, which may very well be price tens of billions in lower than a decade.

Demand is barely anticipated to develop, leaving room in the phase for lesser-known weight loss drug hopefuls comparable to the privately held German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim and smaller public companies comparable to Terns Pharmaceuticals, Viking Therapeutics and Structure Therapeutics.

The subsequent entrants into the booming market have a key window of alternative in the coming years: Goldman Sachs analysts anticipate 15 million U.S. adults to be on weight problems drugs by 2030.

During the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco final week, attendees flocked to hear Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly – the two dominant gamers in the weight loss drug space – discuss what to anticipate this 12 months from their blockbuster weight loss medicine. Demand for these therapies soared, and they slipped into shortages over the final 12 months, as they helped sufferers shed important weight over time.

Other giant drugmakers comparable to Pfizer — which has a extensively adopted however thus far ill-fated weight loss drug program — Amgen, Roche and AstraZeneca additionally outlined their methods for becoming a member of the market. 

But different companies with weight loss drug ambitions have garnered much less consideration all through the current weight loss drug trade gold rush. They may soon compete with the bigger gamers.

Here are a few of the lesser-known companies angling to enter the market.

Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim is creating a weight loss drug with Danish biotech agency Zealand Pharma. That firm has been engaged on weight problems therapies for almost a decade. 

Their experimental drug works by focusing on two intestine hormones: GLP-1 to suppress urge for food, and glucagon to improve power expenditure. Some standard weight loss medicine comparable to Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy solely goal GLP-1. 

Boehringer Ingelheim in August mentioned it was transferring the drug, referred to as survodutide, right into a late-stage study, bringing it one step nearer to potential Food and Drug Administration approval. A mid-stage trial discovered sufferers who are chubby or have weight problems misplaced up to 19% of their weight after 46 weeks of therapy with the drug. 

That weight loss may very well be nearer to 20% to 25% in a section three trial, Zealand Pharma mentioned forward of the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference final week. It’s unclear when that product may win approval. 

Terns Pharmaceuticals

Smaller drugmakers are creating their very own weight loss medicine. They may ultimately enter the market by means of a buyout or partnerships with giant pharmaceutical companies. 

Those companies embody Terns Pharmaceuticals, which is way earlier in the improvement course of than Boehringer Ingelheim is. 

The firm is conducting an early-stage trial inspecting its oral weight loss drug, which works by focusing on GLP-1, in sufferers who are chubby or overweight. Oral medicine will possible be simpler for sufferers to take and for companies to manufacture in contrast to the present weight loss injections.

Terns Pharmaceuticals expects to launch preliminary 28-day knowledge from that trial in the second half of 2024, the firm’s head of analysis and improvement, Erin Quirk, mentioned throughout the convention. 

Quirk acknowledged that it may be troublesome for Terns to set its tablet aside from different weight loss medicine. But she added that “even when it isn’t the greatest…analysts are on the market predicting that this may very well be $100 billion market. If you get a 1% piece of that, that is a $1 billion drug, proper?”

Small biotech companies make strikes

Other small drugmakers trying to enter the space embody Viking Therapeutics, which is creating medicine that concentrate on GLP-1 and one other hormone referred to as GIP. Those are the similar hormones that Eli Lilly’s weight loss and diabetes medicine, Zepbound and Mounjaro, goal.

Viking Therapeutics expects to launch mid-stage trial data on its weight loss injection in the first half of the 12 months. An early-stage research on that drug confirmed that it prompted up to 7.8% weight loss after 28 days.

The firm can be slated to launch section one trial knowledge on an oral version of its weight loss drug throughout the first quarter of the 12 months. 

Structure Therapeutics is equally creating an weight problems tablet, which missed Wall Street’s expectations for weight loss in a mid-stage trial final month. 

The oral drug helped overweight sufferers lose roughly 5% of their weight in contrast to sufferers who obtained a placebo after eight weeks. Before that knowledge was printed, Jefferies analyst Roger Song had mentioned he was anticipating 6% to 7% weight loss relative to a placebo. 

Structure mentioned it expects full 12-week outcomes on sufferers with weight problems in the second quarter of this 12 months. The firm plans to launch a bigger mid-stage research in the second half of 2024 and a late-stage trial in 2026. 

Potential gamers down the line

Some giant drugmakers signaled that they might ultimately transfer to enter the weight loss drug market. 

That contains French firm Sanofi, whose personal GLP-1 drug failed a mid-stage trial nearly half a decade in the past. In the coming years, the firm may have a look at potential “next-generation” weight loss medicine that might have benefits over the present therapies, comparable to fewer negative effects, executives told trade information publication Endpoint News at the JPMorgan Healthcare convention.

“There’s plenty of willpower in companies, together with ours to say, the first wave goes to be this, what’s the second wave going to be?” mentioned Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson. 

Meanwhile, Bayer‘s prescription drugs head Stefan Oelrich mentioned in an interview throughout the convention that the firm is hesitant to enter the weight problems market by itself, however it may companion with different companies. 

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