Pfizer diet pill continues as once-daily version

Danugliprone “has demonstrated good efficacy in a twice-daily formulation, and we believe that a once-daily formulation has the potential to have a competitive profile in the oral GLP-1 space,” Pfizer’s outgoing Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Mikael Dolsten, said in a press release. Notably, the company has not observed any liver safety issues in patients receiving once-daily formulations of the drug.

Pfizer is one of many pharmaceutical companies vying for a slice of the market for a wildly popular class of weight-loss and diabetes drugs called GLP-1 agonists. Some analysts expect the industry to be worth about $100 billion by the end of the decade.

But Pfizer has struggled to enter the market so far.

The pharmaceutical giant discontinued a twice-daily version of danugliprone in December after patients struggled to tolerate the drug in a mid-stage study. At the time, Pfizer said early study data on the once-daily version would “inform a path forward.”

But investors have been pessimistic about the company’s potential in the GLP-1 space since it scrapped another once-daily pill in June 2023 because of elevated liver enzymes in patients taking the treatment. Those were among the setbacks Pfizer faced last year, on top of a rapid decline in its Covid business, which battered its stock.

Still, Pfizer has other experimental drugs in earlier stages of development, including one for obesity. The company has not disclosed how those treatments will work.

“Obesity is an important therapeutic area for Pfizer and the company has a robust pipeline of three clinical and several preclinical candidates,” Dolsten said in the press release.

Pfizer also believes that GLP-1s are just the tip of the iceberg of what we’ll see in obesity, CEO Albert Bourla said at a conference in June.

Pfizer’s Danugliprone is a GLP-1 that promotes weight loss in the same way as Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy injection and the diabetes treatment Ozempic. The drugs mimic a single hormone produced in the gut called GLP-1, which signals the brain when a person is full.

Demand for injections from Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly has increased dramatically over the past year, despite high prices and limited insurance coverage.

The duo — along with Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies — are in a race to develop oral versions that are easier for patients to take and easier to manufacture, which could help ease the shortage of supplies in the U.S.

Pfizer has previously indicated that it could acquire or partner with a smaller manufacturer of anti-obesity drugs.

Bourla told reporters at a conference in January that the company was unlikely to buy an obesity treatment in a later stage of development, especially as the company focuses on lowering costs.

But he said Pfizer was looking for potential licensing deals or weight-loss drugs at an earlier stage.

Pfizer’s update on danugliprone comes days after the company said it is searching for a successor to Dolsten, who will step down after more than 15 years at the drugmaker. Dolsten played a crucial role in developing Pfizer’s Covid vaccine.

Leave a Comment