CLDF Title
Home | Contact Us | Bookmark
Centers of Educational Expertise  
Live CME Events Webcasts Slide Library Abstract Library LiverQ Academy Conference Highlights
Reuters Health Information: Under pressure in diabetes, Novo Nordisk steps up focus on obesity drugs

Under pressure in diabetes, Novo Nordisk steps up focus on obesity drugs

Last Updated: 2017-11-21

By Stine Jacobsen and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

MALOV, Denmark (Reuters) - Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk is stepping up its efforts to treat obesity, seeking to tap into a potentially huge market as its established diabetes drugs come under price pressure, particularly in the United States.

The world's largest maker of diabetes drugs said on Tuesday it would aim to develop medicines that treat obesity - a major cause of diabetes - at least as effectively as surgery.

Its initial big hope is semaglutide, a once-weekly injection that is expected to be launched as a diabetes treatment next year. The new drug, in the GLP-1 category, imitates an intestinal hormone that stimulates the production of insulin.

In a research and strategy update, Novo said it planned to start a final phase 3 clinical trial program with once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide in obesity in the first half of 2018. It will involve around 4,500 patients.

Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975 and the World Health Organization estimates that in 2016 more than 650 million adults were obese - with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. However, just 2% are on obesity medication.

Shares in Novo are down around 14% over the past two years after price pressures in the United States forced it to cut its long-term operating profit growth target twice last year from 15% to 5%. The stock was little changed on Tuesday.


Novo said it hoped to achieve a weight loss that can compete with surgery by combining semaglutide with new biological drugs.

"Maybe 25% (weight loss) or beyond, but we start by setting the bar at 15% or beyond," senior vice president of global research Peter Kurtzhals told investors at the company's capital markets day near Copenhagen.

Two out of the six obesity projects currently in phase 1 trials are expected to move to phase 2 next year, Novo said.

The company's obesity pipeline mainly explores projects addressing weight loss by reducing appetite and thereby food intake, but is also looking at increasing energy consumption.

Novo launched its first obesity drug in 2015, marketed as Saxenda. Other prescription drugs on the U.S. market are Roche's Xenical, Vivus' Qsymia, Eisai's Belviq and Orexigen's Contrave.

Brokerage Nordea sees sales from Novo's obesity franchise rising to $4 billion in 2025, fueled by semaglutide.

Semaglutide is expected to be approved as a diabetes treatment in December and is - in addition to obesity - also being tested on non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), known as fatty liver, and cardiovascular and chronic kidney diseases.

Semaglutide will be launched under the brand name Ozempic, Novo said. It will take aim at Eli Lilly's Trulicity, to which Novo's once-daily Victoza drug is currently losing market share.

Slide Library
Abstract Library
Slide Library
Abstract Library
Slide Library
Abstract Library
Slide Library
Abstract Library
Slide Library
Abstract Library
Slide Library
About CLDF
Mission Statement
Board of Trustees
Board of Advisors/Faculty
2019 GI Fellow Board of Advisors
Other Resources
Liver News Library
Journal Abstracts
Hep C Link to Care
Centers of
Educational Expertise
Substance Use Disorder
CLDF Follow Us
  The Chronic Liver Disease Foundation is a non-profit organization with content developed specifically for healthcare professionals.
© Copyright 2012-2021 Chronic Liver Disease Foundation. All rights reserved. This site is maintained as an educational resource for US healthcare providers only.
Use of this Web site is governed by the Chronic Liver Disease Foundation terms of use and privacy statement.