December 2, 2023

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Pfizer’s Bid for the Weight Loss Drug Market: Trial Data Takes Center Stage

Pfizer’s Bid for the Weight Loss Drug Market: Trial Data Takes Center Stage

Pfizer’s Bid for the Weight Loss Drug Market: Trial Data Takes Center Stage

With the dwindling returns from COVID-19 products, Pfizer aims to carve a niche in the burgeoning weight loss drug market.

Analysts suggest that the upcoming trial data for Pfizer’s experimental weight loss drug, danuglipron, will be crucial for the company’s competition with major players like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly in the emerging weight loss drug market.




Investors are eagerly awaiting Pfizer’s Phase II trial data for its oral medication taken twice daily in non-diabetic obese patients, expected to be released by the end of this year. They hope to see comparable weight loss effects to Eli Lilly’s once-daily pill. There is also keen anticipation for Pfizer’s trial data on once-daily danuglipron, seen as a more competitive version, expected to be announced early next year.

Recognizing a significant opportunity in this field, Pfizer aims to rebound from the sharp decline in demand for COVID-19 products and reverse the approximately 40% drop in its stock price this year.

Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, stated in January that the market for GLP-1 drugs (mimicking gut hormones to suppress appetite, used for obesity and diabetes) could eventually grow to $90 billion, with the company aiming to capture a $10 billion market share through oral weight loss drugs.

In June, Pfizer discontinued the development of its once-daily experimental weight loss drug, lotiglipron, due to concerns about liver safety. Since then, investor optimism about Pfizer’s potential in the weight loss drug industry has waned. Pfizer is now left with the development of danuglipron taken twice daily, which is not as convenient as once-daily medications, leading to less enthusiasm on Wall Street.

Positive trial data could reignite interest in Pfizer, similar to the market response that boosted the stock prices of Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly earlier this year.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen stated, “If Pfizer’s data is positive, then I think people might be able to look past all of these threats from the COVID products.”

Oral weight loss drugs could benefit all three companies. Oral medications are generally easier to manufacture than injectables, and they offer greater convenience for both prescribing doctors and patients. With the surge in demand for medications, pills could also help alleviate the supply constraints faced by many injectable drugs.


Weight Loss Effect Must Reach 15%

Before the release of Phase II trial data, several analysts asserted that Pfizer’s twice-daily drug must be as effective as Eli Lilly’s once-daily drug to be competitive. Chen stated that this implies a weight loss of at least 14% to 15%.

Leerink Securities analyst David Risinger stated in October that Pfizer’s danuglipron needs to demonstrate a weight loss effect of “around 15%” to compete with Eli Lilly’s orforglipron.

These results seem consistent with the weight loss effects observed with the high-dose oral version of Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy). According to Phase III clinical trial results released in June, overweight or obese patients taking a once-daily 50 mg dose of Novo Nordisk’s drug experienced an average weight loss of 15.1% after 68 weeks.



Focus on Once-Daily Version

Even if Pfizer’s upcoming data is encouraging, many investors still yearn to see the efficacy and safety of the once-daily version.

In a June research report, Bank of America analyst Mohit Bansal stated that doctors generally prefer once-daily medications over twice-daily ones. Health experts suggest that patients are more likely to forget doses if they need to take medication twice a day.

Once-daily danuglipron could also address concerns about gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea and vomiting.

Leerink Partners’ Risinger mentioned in an October report that in the Phase II trial, the proportion of patients stopping Pfizer’s twice-daily danuglipron could be higher than those discontinuing Eli Lilly’s orforglipron. He suggested that one reason might be the significantly higher daily dose of danuglipron, potentially leading to more adverse reactions.

Analysts suggest that Pfizer believes the once-daily version of the drug can mitigate gastrointestinal side effects.

A bigger question is whether the once-daily pill can undergo Phase III trials in 2024, considered a crucial step for obtaining approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Pfizer believes this is possible. During the company’s third-quarter earnings call, Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten stated that the company expects to conduct key late-stage trials for the once-daily version of the drug next year.

Pfizer’s Bid for the Weight Loss Drug Market: Trial Data Takes Center Stage

(source:internet, reference only)

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