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Eli Lilly to seek obesity drug approval that could disrupt weight loss market

Eli Lilly will apply for approval of an weight problems drug {that a} late-stage examine confirmed can slash an individual’s physique weight by nearly a sixth, elevating hopes for a brand new blockbuster therapy to deal with the worldwide weight problems epidemic.

The US drugmaker mentioned on Thursday {that a} excessive dose of its drug Tirzepatide helped individuals who have kind 2 diabetes and are obese or overweight lose on common nearly 16 per cent of their physique weight, or 15.6 kilogrammes, over nearly 17 months.

It was authorised by the US Meals and Drug Administration final Might to deal with type-2 diabetes below the model title Mounjaro, however Lilly goals to faucet the fast-growing marketplace for weight reduction remedies by getting the inexperienced mild to market the drug to deal with weight problems.

A brand new class of weight problems and diabetes medication that in some instances can produce weight reduction equal to bariatric surgical procedure, is driving affected person demand and investor pleasure within the sector. Demand for the remedies has been fuelled by endorsements on social media by Hollywood stars and celebrities, together with Elon Musk.

Mounjaro notched up nearly $500mn in gross sales final yr and on Thursday Lilly upgraded its 2023 revenue forecasts due to sturdy demand for the diabetes drug, underlining its potential as a competitor to Novo Nordisk’s weight problems drug Wegovy.

Analysts mentioned the probably approval of the drug later this yr to deal with weight problems would dramatically improve gross sales and will make Tirzepatide the highest-selling drug of all time, with analysts’ forecasts for annual peak gross sales stretching as excessive as $50bn.

Evan Seigerman, analyst at BMO Capital Markets, mentioned trial outcomes confirmed the “wait is over” and Mounjaro was on a path to regulatory approval and potential peak gross sales of greater than $50bn throughout all indications.

“These knowledge reinforce our view that Mounjaro is the very best injectable possibility for weight reduction, besting Novo’s Wegovy,” he added. “As soon as authorised, we anticipate fast uptake, given Lilly’s funding in manufacturing.”

Lilly shares rose greater than 3 per cent in pre-market buying and selling following the discharge of its monetary and trial outcomes.

Pharmaceutical corporations are speeding to develop a brand new era of medicine to deal with a rising disaster within the US, the place two in 5 individuals endure from weight problems, in accordance with knowledge printed by the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

The World Well being Group estimates about 650mn individuals endure from weight problems worldwide. Lilly’s Tirzepatide is run as soon as per week by injection and acts to suppress an individual’s urge for food and improve vitality expenditure.

Lilly and Novo Nordisk nonetheless face a battle to persuade private and non-private insurers to fund their weight problems medication. They argue weight problems causes problems that may be dearer down the road, however might face some pushback from insurers because the market is so massive.

Lilly mentioned it deliberate to finish its submission for approval of Tirzepatide for weight problems in coming weeks and anticipated a choice by the FDA as early as late 2023.