Pfizer to end development of experimental obesity pill lotiglipron
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Pfizer On Monday it stopped developing its experimental obesity and diabetes drug, lotiglipron, due to elevated liver enzymes in patients who took the drug once a day in the middle of clinical trials.
These elevated enzymes often indicate damage to cells in the liver, but the pharmaceutical giant said no patients experienced any liver-related symptoms or side effects.
Shares of Pfizer fell nearly 5% after the news.
New York-based Pfizer said it will instead focus on its other oral obesity drug, danuglipron, which is in a fully enrolled phase two clinical trial.
That study found that body weight was reduced after patients with Type 2 diabetes took high-dose versions of danuglipron twice a day for 16 weeks, according to results Pfizer released last month.
The company plans to finalize plans for a phase three clinical trial program on danuglipron by the end of 2023. Pfizer said it is also developing a version of danuglipron that patients take once a day instead of twice. .
“We look forward to analyzing the phase 2 results of danuglipron and selecting the dose and titration schedule that will provide the highest level of therapeutic benefit and safety and tolerability,” said William Sessa, chief executive officer Pfizer internal medicine scientist, in a press release.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said that an obesity pill could eventually generate $10 billion a year for the company.
Lotiglipron, danuglipron and New Nordiskmassive weight loss injection Ozempic and Wegovy are part of a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists.
They mimic a hormone produced in the gut called GLP-1, which signals the brain when a person is full.
The drugs can also help people manage Type 2 diabetes because they stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas, lowering blood sugar levels.
Oral drugs such as Pfizer’s danuglipron may provide an advantage over frequent injections. Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly also developing their experimental obesity and diabetes pills.
The new class of obesity drugs is sparking public interest and causing a gold rush in the weight loss industry. But there is still uncertainty about their availability, and there are still questions about how long patients would need to take the drugs to keep unwanted weight off.
Some people who stop taking the drugs complain of a weight rebound that is difficult to control.
More than 2 in 5 adults are obese, according to the National Institutes of Health. About 1 in 11 adults are severely obese.
Analysts believe Eli Lilly’s pill has an edge over Pfizer’s danuglipron.
Wells Fargo analyst Mohit Bansal said in a research note on Monday that Pfizer’s decision to compete in the oral weight loss drug space with danuglipron will be challenged by the strong data on Eli Lilly’s experimental pill orforglipron.
Overweight or obese patients who took orforglipron once a day lost 14.7% of their body weight after 36 weeks, according to the results of a mid-term clinical trial published by the company on Friday.
Bansal said that physicians generally prefer a once-daily pill like orforglipron over the twice-daily danuglipron: “Based on convenience, tolerability, and amount of weight loss, orforglipron is likely to beat. “