Pfizer's Weight Loss Ambition: Unlocking Success in the Market with Crucial Upcoming Data

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Business / Tuesday, 14 November 2023 14:09

"Pfizer's Leap into Weight Loss: Unveiling the Potential of Danuglipron in a Competitive Market"

In a strategic shift from its COVID-focused endeavors, Pfizer is eyeing a substantial stake in the emerging weight loss drug market. Focused on its experimental obesity pill, danuglipron, the pharmaceutical giant faces a pivotal moment as analysts eagerly anticipate upcoming data that could determine its competitiveness against industry leaders Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. These industry giants set the stage for a gold rush in the weight loss drug sector with their groundbreaking weekly injections like Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Ozempic and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro, driving the race to develop effective pills for obesity and diabetes.

Investors are on the edge of their seats, awaiting the release of Pfizer's phase two trial data by year-end. The focus is on the drug's performance in obese patients without diabetes, with the expectation that it matches the weight loss efficacy of Eli Lilly's once-daily pill. The anticipation extends to early next year, when trial data on a once-daily version of danuglipron will be unveiled—a form deemed more competitive in the market.

For Pfizer, this venture represents a significant opportunity to bounce back from the decline in demand for its COVID products and a substantial 40% drop in share prices this year. CEO Albert Bourla's vision sees a lucrative market for GLP-1s, a class of drugs for obesity and diabetes that mimic gut hormones to suppress appetite, estimating a potential market worth $90 billion. Pfizer aims to carve out a $10 billion share through an oral treatment.

However, investor sentiment has been tempered by Pfizer's discontinuation of its experimental once-daily pill in June, citing concerns over elevated liver enzymes. The remaining focus on twice-daily danuglipron has been met with less enthusiasm due to its perceived inconvenience compared to a once-a-day alternative.

The weight of Pfizer's future in the weight loss drug industry hinges on the trial results. Positive outcomes could reinvigorate investor confidence and shift attention away from the COVID-related challenges. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen notes, "If Pfizer’s data is positive, then I think people might be able to look beyond all this Covid overhang."

A successful weight loss pill could prove advantageous for Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk alike. Oral drugs are often more accessible to manufacture than injections and offer a more convenient option for both prescribing doctors and patients. Additionally, pills could potentially address supply constraints that have plagued injectable counterparts as demand for these drugs continues to rise.

"Analyzing Pfizer's Weighty Aspirations: A Closer Look at the Efficacy Battle in the Weight Loss Drug Arena"

As Pfizer gears up to unveil the phase two trial data for its twice-daily pill, analysts are scrutinizing its potential competitiveness against Eli Lilly's once-a-day pill, orforglipron. The consensus among industry experts suggests that Pfizer's danuglipron needs to demonstrate efficacy comparable to Eli Lilly's, aiming for a weight loss in the range of 14% to 15%. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen emphasized this benchmark, stating that to be considered competitive, Pfizer's pill must achieve at least a 14% to 15% weight reduction.

Leerink Securities analyst David Risinger echoed these sentiments in October, asserting that Pfizer's danuglipron should exhibit weight reduction in the "mid-teens" percentages to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Eli Lilly's offering. Eli Lilly's phase two trial results revealed that obese or overweight patients taking 45 milligrams of orforglipron daily experienced a weight loss of up to 14.7%, equivalent to shedding 34 pounds over 36 weeks.

Comparatively, Novo Nordisk's semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy, delivered a weight loss of 15.1% for patients taking 50 milligrams once a day over 68 weeks in a phase three clinical trial. Novo Nordisk already markets a low-dose oral version of semaglutide, known as Rybelsus, for treating Type 2 diabetes.

Pfizer's upcoming phase two trial data holds promise, providing insights into the effects of twice-daily danuglipron over an extended period, surpassing the durations of previous studies. The study, involving over 600 adults with obesity, explored the weight loss effects at various dosage levels after 26 or 32 weeks. Previous midstage trials indicated weight loss of around 10 pounds on average for a 120-milligram version and nearly 12 pounds for a 200-milligram version in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Despite potential encouraging data, investor interest remains high for the efficacy and safety profile of a once-daily version, slated for release next year. Physicians, as noted by Wells Fargo analyst Mohit Bansal, generally prefer once-daily pills over twice-daily alternatives. Health experts have highlighted concerns about patient adherence to medication regimens requiring twice-daily dosing, emphasizing the importance of simplicity in treatment plans. The unveiling of Pfizer's data, therefore, holds significant weight in determining the trajectory of its foray into the competitive weight loss drug market.

"Addressing Concerns: Pfizer's Bid for Patient-Friendly Danuglipron in the Weight Loss Drug Market"

As Pfizer navigates the competitive landscape of weight loss drugs with its twice-daily pill, attention is now turning to the potential alleviation of gastrointestinal side effects with a once-daily version of danuglipron. Analysts, including Leerink Partners' Risinger, have raised concerns about the higher incidence of side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, associated with the current twice-daily formulation. Risinger noted that the proportion of patients discontinuing treatment with Pfizer’s danuglipron in the phase two trial may be higher compared to Eli Lilly’s orforglipron, partially due to the higher total daily dose of danuglipron.

In an October note, Risinger highlighted the belief that Pfizer sees a once-daily version as a solution to mitigate gastrointestinal side effects. This perspective is supported by statements made by Pfizer's chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, during the second-quarter earnings call. Dolsten suggested that a once-daily version could improve patient tolerability, potentially reducing the gastrointestinal side effects that have been perceived as limiting danuglipron.

The pivotal question that looms is the timeline for a phase three trial for the once-daily version, considered a crucial step toward potential FDA approval. Pfizer appears optimistic about the prospect, as indicated by Dolsten during the third-quarter earnings call, stating that a pivotal late-stage trial for the once-a-day version is "within our reach" in the coming year.

As Pfizer seeks to enhance the patient experience and address concerns related to side effects, the journey toward a once-daily danuglipron is closely watched by investors and industry observers alike. The potential success of this formulation could not only improve patient adherence but also position Pfizer favorably in the dynamic weight loss drug market.

Pfizer's foray into the weight loss drug market with danuglipron has sparked intense scrutiny and anticipation within the pharmaceutical landscape. As the company eagerly approaches the release of phase two trial data for its twice-daily pill, analysts emphasize the need for its efficacy to rival established players like Eli Lilly's orforglipron, setting a benchmark of at least a 14% to 15% weight loss. The competitive edge sought by Pfizer lies not only in the effectiveness of its drug but also in the potential mitigation of gastrointestinal side effects through a once-daily version.

Addressing concerns about patient adherence and the potentially higher incidence of adverse effects associated with the twice-daily dosage, Pfizer is banking on the development of a more patient-friendly alternative. Analysts, echoing Pfizer's sentiments, point to the potential of a once-daily version to improve patient tolerability, potentially overcoming limitations perceived in the current formulation.

However, the pivotal question remains the timeline for a phase three trial of the once-daily version, a crucial step toward potential FDA approval. Despite challenges, Pfizer expresses optimism, with Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten indicating that a late-stage trial for the once-a-day version is "within our reach" in the coming year.

The evolving narrative of Pfizer's venture into the weight loss drug market underscores the dynamic nature of pharmaceutical innovation. As the industry witnesses this unfolding story, investors, analysts, and health experts alike eagerly await the trial results, recognizing the potential impact not only on Pfizer's trajectory but on the broader landscape of weight loss therapeutics. The journey towards a more effective and patient-friendly danuglipron reflects the constant pursuit of breakthroughs that can reshape treatment paradigms and address unmet medical needs.