Pharmaceutical Industry Should Invest Further in Anti-Obesity Drugs

Pharmaceutical organisations should increase their investment in anti-obesity drugs to respond to the rising number of clinically obese people globally.

This is the main message from a report by business intelligence specialist, GlobalData, which observes that the obesity market is lucrative, largely driven by the embracement of sedentary lifestyles, high cholesterol diets and reduced physical activity.  However, GlobalData claims that the current drug market “lacks products that patients find attractive.”

The report found that weight loss medicines are not currently popular amongst their worldwide target population as a result of numerous shortcomings, creating opportunities for pharmaceutical organisations to tap into the lucrative obesity market.

The study noted that there is only one currently approved prescription drug, Roche’s Xenical, which has adverse side-effects that include gastrointestinal problems, incontinence and oily spotting.  In addition, Sanofi’s Acomplia and Abbott Laboratories’ Meridia were removed from the market in 2009 and 2010, respectively, as a result of neuropsychiatric side-effects.

As a result, these cases “have led to a decline in the anti-obesity therapeutics market and a decrease in public confidence”, GlobalData noted, adding that the treatment-seeking rate is very low, even though there is a growing target market.  It argues that weak patient compliance also reduces the efficiency of therapeutics, which are normally only prescribed for one year, and obese patients are generally “showing an increasing preference for lifestyle modification and bariatric surgery over pharmacological therapy.”

Physicians also normally recommend behavioural alterations, dieting and physical activity prior to prescribing drug treatments.  Therefore, new drug treatments need to offer substantial improvement in safety and effectiveness in order to increase popularity.

The analysis claims that the anti-obesity pipeline contains 86 treatments, 66 being first-in-class molecules, “which implies the emergence of numerous unique treatment mechanisms.” GlobalData added that “several late-stage pipeline molecules have displayed remarkable effectiveness and safety in medical trials, which may provide significant breakthroughs in the near future.”

However, the market has developed further since the report was written, and last month advisors to the US FDA overwhelmingly recommended Vivus’ Qnexa for approval.

GlobalData’s analysis demonstrates that the international anti-obesity therapeutics market stood at around $1.10 billion in 2005 and declined 3.8% at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $890.3 million in 2010.  Growth is predicted to be at a CAGR of 9.3% in the future, and to reach $1.82 billion by 2018.


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