April 20, 2024

The race is on to break up the current weight loss drug duopoly held by Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic and Wegovy, and Eli Lilly, the maker of Zepbound.

The latest contender, San Diego-based Viking Therapeutics, just announced promising results for its new weight loss drug: its new GLP-1 drug (the same class as Ozempic) seems to be working.

Announcing the results of its phase-two clinical trial, Viking said in a press release that users achieved an average 14% of weight loss from baseline numbers, plus 13% compared with a placebo after 13 weeks of treatment. Viking also it plans to meet with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to discuss the next steps of the drug’s development.

Investors jumped on the news, sending Viking Therapeutics stock surging. During premarket trading on Tuesday (Feb. 27), Viking share values nearly doubled, soaring 80% to $69.79. It’s still rising.

The energy comes as investors are looking for a cheaper path into the weight loss drug market. Novo Nordisk’s stock currently sits at $121, and Eli Lilly’s is priced at a whopping $765.

Weight loss drug wars

After the launch of the diabetes medication Ozempic in 2017, the demand for weight loss drugs has skyrocketed in the last years.

Fervent demand for Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Ozempic in the last year had the company racing to keep up with supply. The rush of sales at the Denmark-based company even buoyed the nation’s GDP in 2023.

Several pharmaceutical companies are now chasing the hype, working to introduce new drugs to get in on the demand. In addition to Viking Therapeutics, Regeneron, Amgen, and Zealand Pharma are all developing weight loss drugs with hopes to capture some of the market share dominance held by Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly.

Zealand Pharma stock soared more than 34% on Monday (Feb. 26)after the company announced strong results in a clinical trial for a liver disease drug that is also being tested for weight loss. The Denmark-based company is developing the drug, survodutide, with the privately-held German pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim. The two companies announced Monday that their phase-two trial found that 83% of patients on the treatment saw significant improvements to a liver condition known as MASH.

Survodutide is also currently going through a phase-three clinical trial for treating obesity. Previous trials demonstrated that it helped users lose nearly 15% of their weight in 46 weeks.

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