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Report: Safety Concerns Hinder Obesity Drugs

The market is large, but docs are wary (September 4)

ResearchMoz, a business intelligence firm located in Albany, N.Y., reports that safety concerns hinder the performance of obesity drugs despite a large market opportunity.

Obesity is often described as a global endemic, with the incidence dramatically increasing over the past decades, particularly in developed countries, the report says. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for the development of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Numerous anti-obesity drugs have been approved in the past decade, including Meridia (sibutramine, Knoll Pharmaceuticals) and Acomplia (rimonabant, Knoll), only for them to be removed from the market because of evidence of suicidal thoughts, depression, and cardiovascular problems with long-term use. Health care professionals therefore have a negative perception of such drugs and do not widely prescribe them, the report says.

Only Xenical (orlistat, Genentech) is currently deemed to be safe for the long-term treatment of obesity, but the drug has produced a placebo-adjusted weight-loss average of only 3 kg.

If proven safe, the sales of Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate, GBI Research) and other new anti-obesity drugs are expected to increase the market size to $2.7 billion by 2019. This is significantly below the market potential, however, given the size of the prevalence population, the report notes.

Source: PR Newswire; September 4, 2013.

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