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Pfizer’s twice-daily weight reduction tablet joins an extended listing of weight problems drug flops


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Pfizer’s twice-daily model of its experimental weight loss pill has now joined an extended listing of other scrapped drugs that aimed to deal with weight problems however got here with unintended penalties. 

The drugmaker on Friday stated it can cease creating the twice-daily remedy, danuglipron, after overweight sufferers taking the drug misplaced important weight however skilled excessive charges of antagonistic unwanted side effects in a midstage scientific trial. Pfizer famous that it’ll launch information on a once-daily model of the tablet subsequent yr, which is able to “inform the trail ahead.” 

The announcement got here six months after Pfizer scrapped a special once-daily tablet in June, citing elevated liver enzymes. Pfizer’s transfer to drop two weight problems drug candidates in only a few months demonstrates how troublesome it’s to develop an efficient, secure and tolerable remedy for shedding weight, even after latest breakthrough medicines entered the area. 

That features Novo Nordisk‘s Wegovy and diabetes remedy Ozempic in addition to Eli Lilly‘s diabetes drug Mounjaro. They’ve all skyrocketed in reputation — and slipped into shortages — during the last yr for safely and efficiently inflicting important weight reduction. An estimated 40% of U.S. adults are overweight, making these medication the pharmaceutical business’s latest money cow. 

However earlier than the present weight reduction business gold rush, the trail to treating weight problems was strewn with failures relationship again many years.

The principle cause many experimental remedies had been scrapped by drugmakers, rejected by U.S. regulators or finally pulled from the market had been unintended unwanted side effects, together with elevated liver enzymes, most cancers dangers, cardiovascular dangers and critical psychiatric issues, akin to suicide. 

Eisai’s lorcaserin

Probably the most latest casualties amongst experimental weight problems medication is Japanese drugmaker Eisai’s lorcaserin, which was removed from the market in 2020 resulting from inflicting an elevated threat of most cancers in sufferers. 

The Meals and Drug Administration greenlit lorcaserin in 2012 based mostly on a number of scientific trials however required Eisai to conduct a bigger and longer research on the drug after the approval.

That research on about 12,000 sufferers over 5 years discovered that extra folks taking lorcaserin had been diagnosed with cancer in contrast with these taking a placebo, which led the FDA to drag the drug from the market.  

Lorcaserin, marketed underneath the model title Belviq, did not seem to achieve a lot traction whereas it was commercially accessible. In its full-year 2019 earnings, Eisai reported that Lorcaserin had gross sales of $28.1 million within the U.S. for the yr. International gross sales of the drug had been about $42 million. Eisai’s complete gross sales for the yr had been roughly $4.42 billion.

Sanofi’s rimonabant

An weight problems drug referred to as rimonabant from Sanofi and Aventis was withdrawn from all markets in 2008 as a result of threat of great psychiatric issues, together with suicide. 

Notably, the remedy by no means received approval within the U.S. as a result of a panel of consultants to the FDA rejected the drug amid fears that it might trigger suicidal ideas. However European regulators permitted rimonabant, marketed underneath the title Acomplia, in 2006 based mostly on in depth scientific trials. 

Two years later, European regulators advisable the suspension of rimonabant after one in all its committees decided that the dangers of the remedy — significantly psychiatric points — outweighed its advantages. 

The remedy suppressed urge for food by blocking the receptor of cannabinoid substances within the mind, which performs an essential function in regulating the physique’s meals consumption and metabolism. 

Resulting from rimonabant’s restricted time available on the market and failure to win U.S. approval, the drug by no means reached Sanofi’s lofty projection that it could finally generate $3 billion a yr or extra. 

Abbott Laboratories’ sibutramine

A number of weight problems medication have additionally been discontinued, rejected or pulled from the market resulting from unintended cardiovascular dangers. 

That features sibutramine from Abbott Laboratories, which was as soon as extensively used as a remedy for weight problems together with food plan and train.

The drug was first permitted in 1997, however carried warnings about hypertension and a threat of coronary heart assault and stroke in cardiovascular sufferers. 

A big, long-term trial on practically 10,000 adults confirmed that sibutramine was related to a big enhance in cardiovascular occasions, which prompted regulators within the U.S. and Europe to drag the drug from these markets in 2010.

Gross sales of sibutramine had been dwindling forward of its elimination from the market. The drug raked in solely $80 million globally, together with $20 million from the U.S., within the first 9 months of 2010.

Latest proof means that the latest slate of permitted weight reduction medication might have the alternative impact on coronary heart well being: Weekly injections of Wegovy slashed the general threat of coronary heart assault, stroke and dying from cardiovascular causes by 20%, in keeping with a recent clinical trial


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