New therapies boost obesity drug market

Decision Resources, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms for pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that the uptake of novel therapies will drive the obesity drug market to increase more than six-fold, from $512 million in 2008 to more than $3.2 billion in 2018 in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Japan.

The new Pharmacor report entitled Obesity finds that the high level of unmet need for efficacious and safe weight-loss therapies will propel the uptake of novel therapies and boost diagnosis and drug-treatment rates of obesity in the world's major pharmaceutical markets. According to the report, physician and patient dissatisfaction with the weight-loss efficacy of current market-leading therapies such as Roche's Xenical, GlaxoSmithKline's OTC Alli and Abbott's Meridia has created an environment that is conducive to the rapid uptake of novel agents. The most notable novel therapies that are expected to launch by 2018 include Arena Pharmaceuticals' lorcaserin and Amylin Pharmaceuticals' pramlintide/leptin combination. The combined sales of lorcaserin and pramlintide/leptin will capture 87 percent of the total obesity market in 2018, according to the report.

The report also finds that the absence of cannabinoid receptor-1 antagonists in the marketplace has created enormous opportunity for drugs with other novel mechanisms of action. Owing to safety concerns, the withdrawal of the cannabinoid-1 receptor antagonist rimonabant (Sanofi-Aventis's Acomplia) from the European markets and the compound's failure to gain U.S. regulatory approval has led several major drug companies to discontinue development of obesity drugs in this class.

"Regulatory agencies and physicians have become increasingly concerned about psychiatric side effects following rimonabant's recent withdrawal from the European market in 2008 because of - among other issues - elevated risk for depression associated with its use," said Decision Resources Therapeutic Area Director Donny Wong, Ph.D. "Previously, regulatory concern had focused on long-term cardiovascular safety following the withdrawal in 1997 of Wyeth's Redux and Pondimin due to cardiac abnormalities associated with these therapies."

The report also finds that although fixed-dose combination agents such as Vivus's Qnexa and Orexigen Therapeutics' Contrave and Empatic are generating some interest among physicians owing to their improved efficacy over currently marketed therapies, most interviewed experts remain concerned about the potential CNS side effects associated with these drugs.

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