Anti-obesity market needs investment, report finds

 Pharmaceutical companies should increase investment in anti-obesity drugs to fulfil the unmet need in the growing global number of clinically obese individuals, a new report says.

GlobalData’s Anti-Obesity Therapeutics – Pipeline Assessment and Market Forecasts to 2018 found patients and physicians prefer alternatives to existing medications due their various side-effects.

The report says that the prevalence of obesity is increasing, yet the potentially lucrative market declined at an annual rate of 3.8% from 2005 to reach $890.3m in 2010 due to a lack of attractive products.

At present, the market only contains one approved drug, Xenical, plus similar generics from the appetite-suppressant class of drugs.

But Xenical is known for adverse side-effects such as gastrointestinal problems, faecal incontinence and oily spotting. Acomplia was removed from the market in 2009 and Meridia in 2010 following issues with neuropsychiatric side-effects.

These withdrawals, the report says, has led to a decline in the therapeutics market and a decrease in public confidence towards anti-obesity medication. However, it adds, the market has the potential to reach $1.81 billion by 2018 if the pharmaceutical industry invests in new products.

But new treatments must offer significant improvements in safety and effectiveness in order to gain popularity with patients and physicians, the report says.

Currently, the treatment-seeking rate for obese individuals is very low. Obese patients are usually advised to change their lifestyles or given bariatric surgery before pharmacological therapy.

The anti-obesity therapeutics pipeline does contain 86 molecules, 66 being first-in-class molecules, which implies the emergence of numerous unique treatment mechanisms, the report found.

Also, several late-stage pipeline molecules have displayed remarkable effectiveness and safety in medical trials, which may provide significant breakthroughs in the near future, and see an annual market growth of around 9.3%.