Pfizer aims to enter the weight loss drug market with its experimental obesity pill, danuglipron, as it seeks to rebound from declining demand for its COVID-19 products. Analysts consider upcoming phase two trial data on the twice-daily pill crucial to determining its competitiveness against Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, major weight loss drug industry players.
Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, envisions capturing a significant portion of the GLP-1 market, a class of drugs for obesity and diabetes that mimic a gut hormone to suppress appetite, which he estimates could grow to $90 billion. The company hopes to secure $10 billion of that market with its oral treatment. The weight loss drug industry has seen a surge in interest following the success of weekly obesity and diabetes injections from Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.
Pfizer investors are awaiting data demonstrating a weight loss level comparable to Eli Lilly’s once-daily pill. Analysts suggest Pfizer’s twice-daily pill needs to be about as effective as Eli Lilly’s to be competitive, requiring at least a 14% to 15% weight loss. While Pfizer had initially developed a once-daily pill, it was scrapped in June, leaving only the twice-daily danuglipron. Investors are more cautious about the twice-daily version due to its reduced convenience compared to a once-a-day treatment.
The upcoming trial data will offer insights into the effects of danuglipron over a more extended period. Pfizer is also expected to release trial data on a once-daily version of the drug early next year, which could address concerns about gastrointestinal side effects associated with the twice-daily form.
Analysts emphasize that a once-daily pill is generally preferred by physicians and patients. The success of Pfizer’s foray into the weight loss drug market is seen as an opportunity to recover from the impact of declining COVID-19 product demand and reverse a 40% drop in its share price this year.
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