Roche Says Obesity Drug Results Are “encouraging” as Competition Intensifies - Latest Global News

Roche Says Obesity Drug Results Are “encouraging” as Competition Intensifies

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Roche said its obesity treatment resulted in almost 19 percent weight loss in early trials, as Swiss pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly look to compete in this booming sector.

Roche’s once-weekly CT-388 injection produced “clinically meaningful and statistically significant” results in patients with obesity compared to a placebo, resulting in an 18.8 percent weight loss over 24 weeks. The side effects were similar to other GLP-1 weight loss drugs, such as Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, the company said Thursday, including nausea and vomiting. Roche shares rose nearly 5 percent in morning trading.

Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly already have follow-up treatments to their blockbuster weight-loss drugs in mid-stage trials, and analysts expect them to continue to dominate the sector.

But with the weight loss market expected to grow to $100 billion by 2030, according to Goldman Sachs, companies like Roche and AstraZeneca are developing their own drugs to carve out a small but lucrative foothold.

The early results compare favorably with Eli Lilly’s Zepbound drug, which resulted in 21 percent weight loss within 72 weeks, and Novo Nordisk’s market-leading Wegovy drug, which resulted in 15 percent weight loss within 68 weeks.

But Roche hasn’t provided any data points, including the size of its weekly doses, meaning it’s “challenging to put these early headline results into context,” said Peter Welford, an analyst at Jefferies.

Although the data is “encouraging,” “there is still a long way to go” before the company can sell its treatment, he added.

The company acquired the drug in December through its $3.1 billion purchase of California biotech Carmot Therapeutics. Roche is also studying the effect of the drug in patients with type 2 diabetes.

CT-388 works in a similar way to Zepbound by mimicking both the gut hormone GLP-1, which is responsible for lowering blood sugar, and another gut hormone, GIP. Scientists believe this combination may result in greater weight loss and lowering blood sugar levels with fewer side effects than drugs like Wegovy that are based solely on GLP-1.

“The results are extremely encouraging for the further development of CT-388 for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes and highlight its potential to become a first-in-class therapy with durable weight loss and glucose control,” said Levi Garraway, chief medical officer at Roche.

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