Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Companies That May Produce an Effective Weight-Loss Medication

In its history, the FDA has approved only a few drugs for weight-loss related use. These drugs include phentermine, approved in 1959, fenfluramine, approved in 1973, dexfenfluramine (Redux), approved in 1996, sibutramine (Meridia) approved in 1997, and orlistat (Xenical), approved in 1999. Fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were pulled from the market in 1997 because the drugs produced serious, undesirable side effects. And although phentermine, orlistat and sibutramine remain on the market, they too usually produce undesirable side effects. Further, these drugs commonly provide less than a ten percent weight-loss. However, we do believe that some companies are involved in research that could lead to safe and effective weight-loss medication.

Because more and more people are overweight or obese, there is great demand for weight-loss medication that will produce few or no side effects, while providing at least a ten percent weight loss. JPMorgan Securities indicates that the weight-loss market was a $50 billion market in 2006. The market is probably larger today. Although high, the demand for a safe and effective weight-loss drug may have to be met by products from lesser known or smaller companies operating in the pharmaceutical industry.

Large pharmaceutical companies such as Merck & Co, Pfizer Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, AstraZeneca, and Sanofi-Aventis have failed, so far, to produce an effective, safe weight-loss drug, despite expensive efforts to produce such a drug. In fact, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, and Merck recently ended weight-loss drug tests because drugs in clinical trials, from these companies, produced severe side effects. AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb do still have tests underway.

Lesser known or smaller companies working to bring a weight-loss drug to market include: California based Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., Denmark based Novo Nordisk A/S, California based Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc., California based Vivus Inc., Ohio based Athersys Inc., Osaka (Japan) based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Lille (France) and Massachusetts (US) based Genfit, Cambridge (UK) based Alizyme plc, Maryland (US) based Ore Pharmaceuticals, and California based NeuroSearch.

All companies mentioned above, currently engaged in weight-loss research, are worth watching. Perhaps, one of these companies will develop a safe and effective weight-loss drug. If and when this happens, it will be beneficial to those wanting to lose weight, and strategically significant to weight loss or bariatric centers wanting to offer the most effective weight-loss options.


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