Booming Global Obesity Drug Market


Booming Global Obesity Drug Market is the title of the new market research report published by RNCOS, a market research consulting services company specializing in BioPharma, IT, Telecom, Retail and Service industries.

According to the fine folks at RNCOS:

  • The prevalence of obesity is increasing globally at alarming rates
  • The Obesity drug market has shown a radical growth in recent times, but in contrast,
  • The market for Weight Loss drugs has failed to match this growth

Note: I am not sure what the difference between the Obesity Drug Market and the Weight Loss Drug Market is, but according to RNCOS, the Weight Loss drug manufacturers had better step up their game.

By 2012, it’s expected that more than two billion people will be overweight and 600 million will be obese, representing immense opportunities for both markets.

Unfortunately, the market for weight loss drugs is characterized by numerous failures.

A number of drugs have failed to get approval, some have been recalled, and those that have entered the market either suffer from serious side effects or have just failed to give the desired results consumers expected from them.

Maybe that’s why the weight loss drug manufacturers aren’t doing so well – Unapproved drugs, recalled drugs, drugs that don’t work and drugs with serious side effects.

Refusal of healthcare authorities to grant reimbursement to these drugs has also impeded the growth.

Why would governments or insurance companies reimburse drug companies for costs incurred developing weight loss drugs that don’t work or have serious side effects?

One of the most recent examples can be taken from Sanofi’s Acomplia; the drug was hailed as a multimillion blockbuster before it was launched. But Acomplia, like most of its predecessors, failed to have a sufficient benefit to risk ratio and was taken off the market just two and a half years after its launch.

The future of the obesity drugs market, however, may not be so gloomy.

This is because the market has high unmet demand and any drug that manages to provide a high benefit to risk ratio can easily achieve blockbuster status.

Note: What the hell is a high benefit to risk ratio???

Moreover, despite some of its recent failures, the obesity drug pipeline is rich and a large number of drugs are in phase 3 and late phase 2 trials. If some of these drugs manage to reach the market and possess a strong efficacy and safety profile, they can quickly become billion dollar blockbusters.

fat-uncle-samCountry-wise, the U.S. is presently the biggest market for weight loss drugs with around 68% of its population either overweight or obese.

The U.S. is followed by the U.K. and other European countries. In the future, emerging economies such as china, Russia, India and Brazil are also expected to become huge markets for weight loss products.

obesity-chinaWith China’s obesity and overweight levels touch 665-670 million in 2015, the country will emerge as the most potential weight loss market

Way to go China!!!

And, just in case you are one of the lucky few who still have some extra money laying around that you would like to invest:

The RNCOS report gives an extensive and objective analysis on the global market for obesity drugs. It…blah, blah, blah…can give valuable information to investors planning to foray (I don’t think I have ever forayed before) into the obesity drug market…blah, blah, blah…

Interesting isn’t it?

If I was a cynical type of person, I just might think that:

  • Obesity is seen by drug manufacturers as a growth industry, and
  • The fatter we get, the more money they make, and
  • Their need for profit might motivate them to lobby for gov’t policies that result in higher numbers of obesity, and
  • Since a lot of money can be made with drugs that “possess a strong efficacy and safety profile”,
  • They have no motivation to find a cure, because
  • Chronic diseases keep people popping pills for the rest of their lives

Damn, maybe I am cynical…gotta work on that.


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  1. I find it interesting that you highlight a report by RNCOS, but you use an graphic exhibit from the “Clinical Management of Obesity” Report #S825, published by my company, MedMarket Diligence (a bit confusing to your readers, I would think?).

    The difference between the obesity drug market and the weight loss drug market is that obesity is a clinical condition managed by a physician. The physician may prescribe ethical pharmaceuticals for the obesity (e.g., Xenical/orlistat, Meridia/sibutramine, etc.) and these represent the obesity drug market. The physician may alternatively determine that gastric bypass, roux en y, lap band or a similar bariatric procedure be done. On the other side, the weight loss drug market is the over-the-counter market, representing “diet pills” (these have been recently augmented by the addition of half-dose xenical, which is sold under the name “Alli”).

    Weight loss drugs and drugs or devices for the clinical management of obesity are very different markets, the distinction being the physician’s involvement. Pricing, reimbursement and other issues become involved that make the OTC versus clinical so different.

    As an aside, you note that RNCOS specializes in a broad range of very unrelated subjects (BioPharma, IT, Telecom, Retail and Service industries). I would not really call that “specializing”.

  2. To Dr. Parker’s comment about the projections being wishful thinking, that is unfortunately not the case. Drug and device markets always track closely to actual diagnoses. The increased incidence and resulting prevalence of obesity worldwide (WHO report, U.S. CDC, others) would largely support these forecasts even if **no other** developments took place. However, if you look at the largest projected growth being in drug development, consider that this is a “partial” list of drugs on the market and in development: Xenical (orlistat), Meridia (sibutramine), phentermine, Rimonabant, Taranabant (MK-0364), CP-945,598, Contrave (bupropion + naltrexone), Excalia, ATL-962, AOD9604, Qnexa (phentermine + topiramate), lorcaserin (APD-356), Pramlintide, PYY(3-36), TM30338, oxyntomodulin, GT 389-255, LPT3-04, oral oleoyl-estrone, alli half-dose Xenical (orlistat), tesofensine, BL-3020.

    Understandably, Dr. Parker’s perspective comes from the use of Mediterranean diet. While I would hope that diet be addressed first before clinical intervention, the reality is that, for obesity, it is precisely the point that clinical intervention has become necessary.

  3. Patrick,

    Thanks for clearing up the difference between weight loss drugs and obesity drugs.

    Would you be willing to answer some questions about this report as well as the obesity/weight loss drug market in general?

    I think your unique perspective would make for an interesting and enlightening discussion.

  4. Seriously, big pharma would work hard to find a way to get the government to suppress any real cure for obesity and the government would most likely agree. There is far too much money in both the weight loss and obesity drug industries. Behind the scenes they are doing everything they can to keep American’s fat, and keep the obesity rate growing. You know it’s true.

  5. Swole –

    You’ll find more credibility if you steer clear of the conspiracy theories. Even if you’re right, statements like the one above make it too easy to dismiss you as a member of the tin foil hat brigade. Drug companies don’t need to engage in half cocked conspiracies to keep American’s fat, we do an excellent job of that on their own. They are simply responding to a market.

    Note that I’m not saying that we as a society aren’t over medicated, and I’m not in any way trying to give all pharma companies a pass for cases where serious misconduct does exist, but let’s try to resist the urge to make this issue black and white.

    You could make a case for this kind of back door influence with agri-business and effect on the USDA and general dietary recommendations. But even this is more a case of their cherry picking the data and marketing only their perspective than an overt conspiracy.

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