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Pfizer On Monday, it said it would stop development of an experimental obesity and diabetes pill, called lutigliprone, because of elevated liver enzymes in patients who took the drug once daily in clinical studies.
These elevated enzymes often indicate damage to liver cells, but the pharmaceutical giant said no patients experienced liver-related symptoms or side effects.
Pfizer shares closed down 3.6 percent on Monday.
New York-based Pfizer said it would instead focus on its other oral obesity drug, danoglipron, which is in fully registered phase II clinical trials.
That study found that body weight decreased after patients with type 2 diabetes took high doses of danuglipron twice daily for 16 weeks, according to Pfizer results released last month.
The company expects to complete plans for a Phase 3 clinical trial program for danuglipron by the end of 2023. Pfizer added that it is also developing a version of danuglipron that patients take once a day instead of twice.
“We look forward to analyzing danuglipron’s Phase 2 results and selecting the dose and titration schedule that will maximize therapeutic benefits, safety, and tolerability,” William Sessa, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer for internal medicine, said in a press release.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the obesity pill could eventually bring in $10 billion each year for the company.
Lotiglipron, danuglipron, and Novo NordiskThe popular weight loss injections Ozempic and Wegovy are part of a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists.
They mimic a hormone produced in the gut called GLP-1, which sends signals to the brain when a person is full.
Medications can also help people manage type 2 diabetes because they stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas, which lowers blood sugar levels.
Oral medications such as danuglipron from Pfizer can offer an advantage over frequent injections. Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly They are also developing their own experimental pills for obesity and diabetes.
The new class of obesity drugs is sparking public interest and causing the weight-loss industry to go gold. But there is still uncertainty about its accessibility, and questions remain about how long patients need to take the drugs to shed unwanted weight.
Some people who stop taking medications complain of a return of weight that is difficult to control.
More than 2 in 5 adults are obese, according to the National Institutes of Health. About 1 in 11 adults is obese.
Analysts believe Eli Lilly’s pill has an edge over Pfizer’s danuglipron.
Pfizer’s decision to compete in the oral weight-loss drug space with danuglipron will be challenging given the strong data on Eli Lilly’s experimental pill orforglipron, Wells Fargo analyst Mohit Bansal said in a research note Monday.
Overweight or obese patients who took orforglipron once a day lost 14.7% of their body weight after 36 weeks, according to clinical trial results released by the company on Friday.
Bansal added that doctors generally prefer a one-a-day pill such as orforglipron over twice-daily danuglipron: “Depending on convenience, tolerability, and volume of weight loss, Forglipron is likely to be the factor to overcome,” Bansal added.