April 20, 2024

Danish pharma giant Novo Nordisk teased promising early-stage trial results of its experimental weight loss pill amycretin last week, resulting in the company’s stock surging.

On Mar. 7, the company told investors that a small trial of the pill found that it could be twice as effective as the company’s current blockbuster weight loss drug.

A day later, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said that amycretin “could develop into a best-in-class medicine.

Novo Nordisk is credited with ushering in the weight loss drug revolution after the FDA approved its drug Wegovy in 2021. Before that, the firm’s diabetes medication Ozempic had become known for its slimming side effects. Since then, skyrocketing demand for Ozempic and Wegovy has turned Novo Nordisk into the most valuable company in Europe, surpassing luxury conglomerate LVMH last year. Sales of the medications even helped boost Denmark’s GDP by 1.8% in 2023.

Now, news of this next-gen weight loss drug lifted the company’s market cap above Tesla’s and made it the12th-most valuable company in the world.

Here is everything you need to know about the powerful pill that has whipped investors into a frenzy.

How is amycretin different from Wegovy?

The main difference between amycretin and Wegovy is that the former stimulates two different gut hormones while the latter only stimulates one.

In addition to stimulating glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), like Wegovy, amycretin also stimulates amylin. Both GLP-1 and amylin impact blood sugar levels and appetite.

Another major difference between the two medications, is that amycretin is taken once daily as a pill and Wegovy is a weekly injection.

How effective is amycretin?

A small ongoing trial of the drug on obese Japanese men found that the pill helped users lose an average of 13% of their body weight after 12 weeks. For comparison, a larger clinical trial of Wegovy found that it helped users lose about 15% of their body weight over 68 weeks.

Its important to note that larger phase II, III, and IV trials, involving thousands more participants, could return different results.

Will amycretin replace Wegovy?

Jørgensen told CNBC on Mar. 8, that the he doesn’t expect amycretin to completely replace Wegovy in the market.

“We believe in the future, there will be different segments of anti-obesity treatments, different patients having different preferences,” Jørgensen said. “Some will prefer an injectable. And we really believe that a once-weekly injectable is a very convenient offering.”

When will amycretin be available on the market?

Novo Nordisk said its will begin a phase II trial of the drug in the second half of the year, however, results of the trail won’t be available until early 2026.

Still, the company’s head of development Martin Holst Lange told Reuters the drug could launch this decade.

“I never commit to timelines but I would be very comfortable to say at the very least within this decade,” Lange told the outlet.

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