Picking Winners in Obesity Treatment
As expected, Mysimba (naltrexone/bupropion, known as Contrave in the U.S.) became the second new obesity medicine to be fully approved for sale in Europe this week. This week broke a nine-year drought for new obesity medicines in Europe. Now analysts are busy trying to figure out who will be the winners in obesity treatment.
Such speculation, though understandable, is a bit premature. Prescription trends show both Contrave and Belviq to be growing, while it’s not clear that Qsymia is. Having only launched in October, Contrave has rapidly climbed to match Qsymia, which has been available for two years. Pricing pressure from Contrave led to a cut in Belviq’s cost to consumers that seems to have re-energized that brand.
But the fact is that the development of a robust environment for obesity treatment will continue to be a work in progress for years to come. With Saxenda’s introduction coming next quarter, you can be sure Novo Nordisk will shake things up for everyone. More competitors mean more options for people with obesity and potentially more uptake by physicians, who have been slow to start prescribing obesity medicines.
More prescribing means more research, which will bring better options still. Zafgen is working this year to firm up its plans for an FDA submission for beloranib in obesity. Meanwhile researchers are moving more candidates into early stage research. The most ambitious program can be found at Novo Nordisk, which has dedicated its Seattle research facility to obesity research.
Though we have many more options today for obesity treatment, we are years — perhaps decades — away from having a robust array of options available as we do for diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. When we have those options, then we will have some real winners — people affected by obesity and the innovators who do the best job of meeting their needs.
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