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Big Pharma scrambles to feed demand for weight-loss treatments amid rising US obesity rates
Nov 16

AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) __ Obesity rates in the U.S. have been rising steadily for well over a decade and some of the world's biggest drug developers are tapping into the growing treatment market.

Novo Nordisk reported another surge in profits and revenue during its most recent quarter with a big assist from Wegovy, an injectable treatment for weight loss approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2021.

Obesity care sales rose 174% through the first three quarters of 2023 for Novo Nordisk, driven by the U.S. market. Demand for Wegovy, which is a high-dose version of the diabetes treatment Ozempic, has been high enough to warrant ongoing supply restrictions while the company works to increase production.

Eli Lilly is the most recent company to enter the weight-loss treatment market with its regulatory approval for Zepbound, a new version of the diabetes drug Mounjaro. It notably priced the drug at roughly a 20% discount to Novo Nordisk`s Wegovy as the companies try to entice more employers to include weight-loss drugs in their insurance benefit plans.

Roughly one-third of adults in the U.S. were obese as of 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That's up from a about quarter of U.S. adults in 2011. Some experts project that half of all U.S. adults will be obese by 2030.

"To gain coverage in Medicare and Medicaid, they'll likely need legislation at the state and federal level," said Jeff Jonas, portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2023

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