New Growth

ObesityWeek: Emerging Anti-Obesity Medicines

ObesityWeek 2019 LogoSuccess begets success. That’s a core message we’re taking away from a late-breaking forum on emerging anti-obesity medicines. Pharmaceutical researchers reviewed an impressive range of innovations that promise to set a higher bar for effective obesity care. All of this came before ObesityWeek kicks into high gear today.

Building Upon Success

Mads Tang-Christensen opened the forum with an overview of how Novo Nordisk R&D is working on innovation to build upon the success of Saxenda. Saxenda is now clearly the first ever big commercial success for treating obesity. It’s among the best options right now. But not for long.

The goal is to match the efficacy of bariatric surgery without the daunting prospect of a surgical procedure. Already, semaglutide promises to bring an increment of better efficacy. It’s already approved for type 2 diabetes in both oral and injectable forms. Before long, it will be in the market for obesity, too.

But Novo Nordisk is already working on even newer agents – dual and tri agonists with the aim of hitting an even higher mark for effectiveness. Tang-Christensen gave us on overview of these glimmers of hope in his R&D pipeline.


Perhaps the greatest excitement, though, was about a new monoclonal antibody from Novartis. Laura Coleman unveiled efficacy data from a phase 2 study of bimagrumab. To be sure, this is early stage data. But it’s very impressive. Patients lost 21 percent of their fat mass. On top of that, they actually gained lean body mass.

This is important because in most obesity treatment, people lose both fat mass and lean mass. These are early and impressive findings. Phase 3 data will provide a more definitive word.


Finally, we got a view of a new, highly targeted melanocortin agonist in two indications. These are POMC deficiency and LEPR deficiency. Together, they likely affect fewer than 3,000 patients in the U.S. But those patients are severely affected with severe obesity from very early in their lives. And the data we saw tells us that this new drug can make a big difference for many of those patients.

There’s nothing like a bit of success to attract competition. And when that competition comes in the form of innovation, patients will benefit. Based on these emerging anti-obesity medicines, the future looks bright for obesity care.

Click here for the research abstract on bimagrumab. For research abstracts on setmelanotide, click here and here.

New Growth, photograph © Colin / flickr

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November 5, 2019