Checking in on anti-obesity medicines Checking in on anti-obesity medicines\images\insights\article\medical-researcher-tubes-small.jpg June 20 2024 June 21 2024

Checking in on anti-obesity medicines

The market for GLP-1 drugs is vast because it's not just weight they alleviate. 

Published June 21 2024
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Obesity is a global health crisis affecting more than 650 million people. The problem is about more than just fitting into an old pair of jeans, as obesity is linked to around 200 possible health complications. Nearly 90% of Americans who are overweight or obese have weight-related comorbidities. Simply put, as weight increases, quality of life and life expectancy decrease.

Diet and exercise are only moderately effective in reducing weight, and the weight loss is oftentimes not maintained. Similarly, while the effectiveness of medications for the treatment of obesity has been modest in the past, newer drugs, known as GLP-1s, have demonstrated meaningful weight loss. 

As demonstrated in many large clinical trials, the substantial weight loss associated with GLP-1s also translates into a wide range of health benefits.  These include but are not limited to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, diabetes prevention and sleep apnea. Additional studies are ongoing in diabetic retinopathy, early Alzheimer’s disease and osteoarthritis, among others.  

Analysts believe that over time the obesity market can reach over $100 billion. At present, one in eight or about 13% of American adults have used a GLP-1. These are expensive medicines and often affordable only to those with insurance coverage, with out-of-pocket costs often amounting to more than $1000 per month.  There is strong public support for broader coverage of GLP-1 drugs. It is expected that the health benefits associated with weight loss will provide strong arguments for expanded coverage.  

Following the success of Novo Nordisk (Wegovy and Ozempic) and Eli Lilly (Mounjaro and Zepbound), several other companies have moved into the field to capture and improve on the benefits currently seen with GLP-1s. Of the many innovations, we believe a pill version would represent the biggest step change with regard to access and, potentially, affordability. 

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