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Anti-obesity drug market to reach $3.1 billion by 2016

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image An obese population awaits. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ornl.gov

The prescription anti-obesity drug market is expected to grow 11.5 percent a year -- but only if it can deliver new drugs that are safer and more effective.

They were right about the growth in vaccine sales. Now industry analysts predict anti-obesity drugs will be the next big success story in the pharmaceutical industry.

GlobalData’s newest report  predicts the global market for anti-obesity drugs – now valued at $1.4 billion – will grow 11.7 percent each year over the next seven to reach $3.1 billion by 2016.

Fueling the industry’s interest is the alarming obesity epidemic and a persistent public expectation that pharmaceutical companies will  eventually develop a pill that is safer, shows greater results, and has fewer negative side effects than drugs currently on the market.

By 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese, according to projections from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The United States is currently the biggest single market for weight loss drugs, with around 68 percent of the population either overweight or obese, followed by the UK and other European countries. However, China, Russia, India and Brazil could soon begin to eclipse Western countries in terms of its obese populations. For example, China’s obesity and overweight levels are predicted to reach 665 to 670 million in 2015.

Yet, there are few options for the growing numbers that would consider pharmaceuticals to help shed pounds.

Two prescription anti-obesity drugs dominate the market: Roche’s Xenical (orlistat), a lipase inhibitor, and Abbott’s Meridia (sibutramine hydrochloride), an appetite suppressant.

Together they represent two-thirds of the $1.4 billion prescription anti-obesity market in terms of revenues. Generics and off-label drugs represent the other third. (Xenical lost its patent in December 2009 so will soon lose share to cheaper generics.)

Sibutramine, the key ingredient of Xenical, is the latest of a long line of anti-obesity drugs to be approved and later taken off the market. While still approved for sale in the United States, sibutramine has just been banned in the UK and France where health agencies concluded that its risks outweigh its benefits. 

A third class of drugs promotes weight-loss by speeding up metabolism but it is only effective on a short-term basis.

Related: France bans sibutramine for obesity in advance of expected Europe-wide ban

What’s in the pipeline?

Three smaller U.S. biotech companies have new anti-obesity drugs in clinical trials or are awaiting FDA approval later this year.

Qnexa, a formulation of low dose phentermine (an appetite suppressant) and topiramate (a medication used in the treatment of epilepsy and migraine), has completed phase 3 clinical trials. VIVUS Inc. applied for FDA approval of Qnexa in late December 2009.

Lorcaserin is a new class of stimulant drug that targets serotonin 2C receptors in the brain. Arena Pharmaceuticals, the developer, has completed phase 3 trials for lorcaserin and also applied for FDA approval in late 2009.

Contrave (bupropion SR/naltrexone SR) and Empatic (zonisamide SR/bupropion SR) are in clinical trials. Developed by Orexigen, both are combinations of two existing drugs formulated for weight-loss.

GlaxxoSmithKline and other large pharmas have numerous other clinical trials for obesity drugs underway in the United States, United Kingdom, and other western countries.


Subscribe to comments feed Comments (9 posted):

DEV on 01/25/2010 07:31:09
We are fascinated by fancy commercial names and packing and use these man made molecules / chemical compounds whithout knowing ultimately result. All these results into some sort of side effects and / or complications. The Protocol governing the test and evaluation of these drugs is not adequate and can never match wisdom of conventional medicines used by various cultures over thousands of years. For example Haldi (Turmeric) which is called “curcumin longa” has property to inhibit “NF Kappa B” and also it is known VEGF inhibitor. This can help in most of the chronic conditions and can (restricting formation of Fat Cells). Similarly Gracinia Combogia (VRIKSHA AMLA) can also be useful in obesity.
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buy r4i on 01/25/2010 22:19:04
Very useful information is given here.I must say there is a high unmet need in the current market as the drugs that are efficacious carry serious side effects, while the drugs that have demonstrated moderate safety profiles have not demonstrated equivalent efficacy.Thanks.
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16gb micro sd card on 02/16/2010 22:23:33
Hi Guy's,
This can help in most of the chronic conditions and can (restricting formation of Fat Cells). Similarly Gracinia Combogia (VRIKSHA AMLA) can also be useful in obesity.
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Fulvic Acid on 03/22/2010 03:46:37
it will not be all smooth sailing for pharmaceutical companies as there are many hurdles that need to be overcome before drugs are launched successfully. For instance, there is a growing demand from healthcare authorities and practitioners that anti-obesity drugs are efficacious, safe and cost-effective.
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Rhonda on 04/07/2010 22:45:41
I just heard about an obesity drug that seems to be doing better than the ones mentioned in the article. I work as a nurse in the Oncology Dept and probably wouldn't have heard about this, but my friend says that Obestrin seems safer and at least as effective as the others. Guess we'll see.
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SmartLipo on 04/20/2010 03:49:55
As people are becoming more and more conscious about their health as days are passing people try many methods like taking weight loss pills, workouts, cut off in oily food,exercise, taking diet with rich amount of carbs and calories etc helps them in loosing weight or avoid weight to gather in their body. Thus there are increase in the demand of such anti obesity pills.
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on 04/22/2010 16:05:16
I think the market is over $300 Bil worldwide in medical interventioins.
There are 14 mil americans who are qualified by medicare to undergo treatment because they need to loose 50 lbs or more for thier health condition. Each interventional medical procedure cost approx $8000 that makes a market size of approx $120 Billion. That is a huge market, 10 times a cardiology market.
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Qnexa on 06/08/2010 16:39:01
Just keeping you in the loop on Qnexa, Look to July 15th for a better indication on what may be in store for its future. There is a FDA advisory committee looking at it that day. See what their tone is towards the drug, it may just let you know if it gets approved or not in later October.
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drug addiction treatment on 09/22/2010 04:45:52
Scientists argue that anti-obesity drugs fail to provide lasting benefits for health and wellbeing because they tackle the biological consequences of obesity, and not the important psychological causes of overconsumption and weight gain.
Whatever these drugs claim to do, the psychological aspect is not taken into consideration.few of those that are suffering from obesity consider therapy for their problem.
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