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Anti-Obesity Drugs: the New ‘Holy Grail’ of the Industry

The demand for products indicated against diabetes has increased. Large groups in the sector announced new investment plans to grow in this segment. However, not everything is bright about anti-obesity drugs. In July 2023, the European Medicines Agency investigated the alleged relationship between the drugs Ozempic and Saxenda in suicidal behavior and thoughts.



anti-obesity drugs

In the last year, the name of two medications (anti-obesity drugs) has begun to become popular among citizens: Ozempic and Wegovy. The main interest has been aroused in countries such as the United States, Brazil or Canada, although it has quickly spread throughout the world. 

They are drugs created to treat diabetes, but have also been approved and indicated against overweight and obesity. This is a new holy grail for the pharmaceutical industry, which in the case of the Danish company Novo Nordisk can bring in revenues of up to $100 billion in a decade, according to different analysts.

Drugs aimed at controlling sugar levels in diabetics began to show that they reduced the appetite of patients who took them. This circumstance has been understood as a great opportunity within the industry. Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are the first multinationals to take positions on the matter.

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Novo Nordisk, a pioneer in anti-obesity drugs

In July 2021, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the marketing of the solution owned by the Danish pharmaceutical company Wegovy in the United States. In a market that had one hundred million potential consumers , the drug soon spread throughout the country.

Novo Nordisk’s drug has not stopped growing, launching in markets such as Denmark, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom and Iceland. In fact, sales of the drug have almost sixfolded during the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period of the previous year, adding sales of 21.73 billion Danish crowns (2.91 billion euros) and contributing 35.2% of the total profit. of the Danish pharmaceutical company, which was 61.72 billion Danish crowns (8.27 billion euros). The multinational also has other anti-obesity drugs, such as Ozempic and Saxenda.

Not everything is bright in these drugs. In July 2023, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigated the alleged relationship between the drugs Ozempic and Saxenda in suicidal behavior and thoughts, which was joined by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (Aemps).

Regulatory entities warn that these products must be used by people who are overweight and should not be used by those who have a healthy body mass index. From the pharmaceutical side , they explain their commitment to the growing unmet need of people who live with obesity and increasingly demand these medications.

Such is the interest that Novo Nordisk will invest 2.1 billion euros in the expansion of the Chartes plant (Paris), while it will allocate 5.63 billion euros in the expansion of its facilities in Kalundborg (Denmark) to meet the demand for anti-obesity products.

Eli Lilly wants a piece of the pie

The weight loss drug fever continues with Eli Lilly. The American pharmaceutical company has a medication called Zepbound that is indicated for obese or overweight patients who suffer from complications such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, obstructive sleep apnea or cardiovascular diseases.

In fact, this drug was previously approved under the brand name Mounjaro for use in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. In practice it was already prescribed to combat obesity, although not all insurance companies paid for it as it was not authorized for such indication.

The commitment to these blockbuster drugs by Eli Lilly also translates into the construction of a new manufacturing center in Germany, whose investment amounts to 2.5 billion dollars and which will be fully operational in 2027. The operation responds to the need to expand its manufacturing network for devices and injectable products to meet the increased demand for its medicines, especially its portfolio of solutions against diabetes and obesity. Eli Lilly increased its revenue by 17% in the first nine months of the year, boosted by its anti-diabetes drugs Mounjaro, Verzenio, Jardiance and Taltz .

Astrazeneca and Pfizer ride the wave

The giant Pfizer has arrived somewhat later in the commitment to anti-obesity drugs than its rivals, but it has an ace up its sleeve: the format. While the remedies offered by its consumers are injections, the American company is researching to be able to offer its medicine in pill form.

AstraZeneca, for its part, will invest more than 2 billion euros to bring to market a molecule that is still in the early stages of development . The multinational has reached an agreement with Eccogene to acquire the rights to market the treatment, which also shows potential for other pathologies.


(Featured image by FreePhotosART via Pixabay)

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First published in PlantaDoce. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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Eva Wesley is an experienced journalist, market trader, and financial executive. Driven by excellence and a passion to connect with people, she takes pride in writing think pieces that help people decide what to do with their investments. A blockchain enthusiast, she also engages in cryptocurrency trading. Her latest travels have also opened her eyes to other exciting markets, such as aerospace, cannabis, healthcare, and telcos.