Impressive semaglutide results likely to reinforce Novo Nordisk’s position as leading player in obesity market

In February 2021, Novo Nordisk released impressive data from its Phase IIIa STEP1 trial for semaglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, in a bid to strengthen its position as the market leader in obesity. There is a clear unmet need in the market for more efficacious and convenient therapies, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Current therapies mostly function as appetite-suppressors that are orally administered several times a day and often have poor efficacy. Despite some safety concerns, regarding predominately gastrointestinal adverse events, the unprecedented efficacy data from the STEP1 trial demonstrates that semaglutide has the potential to become the leading marketed therapy for obesity.

Akash Patel, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “With more than a third of patients losing over 20% of their body weight, these are incredibly promising results. KOLs interviewed by GlobalData have expressed a keen interest in prescribing semaglutide as it offers a highly efficacious therapeutic option for tackling obesity in patients with or without type 2 diabetes (T2D).”

Semaglutide is already a highly prescribed GLP-1 therapy for T2D, marketed as a subcutaneous (Ozempic) and oral formulation (Rybelsus). If approved for obesity, semaglutide could rapidly cannibalize sales of Novo Nordisk’s leading obesity drug Saxenda, a once-daily subcutaneous GLP-1 therapy, due to its superior efficacy and dosing regimen. Transferring patients to semaglutide is likely to be a key priority for Novo Nordisk before Saxenda loses patent protection.

Fiona Chisholm, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, adds: “Political incentive to address obesity is at an all-time high, with policies such as the UK’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy coming into effect in recent years, particularly as the link between obesity and poorer outcomes in COVID-19 patients has been well publicized throughout the pandemic. The STEP1 results highlight the potential for pharma to play a greater role in tackling the obesity crisis.”

More Media