Antiobesity market grows

Pharmaceutical Representative

According to two new studies, by Mountain View, CA market consulting firm Frost & Sullivan and Newtown, PA-based market research firm Scott-Levin, the antiobesity market continued to grow in both prescriptions and office visits through 1999.

According to two new studies, by Mountain View, CA market consulting firm Frost & Sullivan and Newtown, PA-based market research firm Scott-Levin, the antiobesity market continued to grow in both prescriptions and office visits through 1999.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the total antiobesity drug market grew by 80.6% between 1998 and 1999 and went from $187.5 million to $338.6 million in revenues. According to Scott-Levin, the launch of Mount Olive, NJ-based Knoll Pharmaceutical Co.'s Meridia® in Jan. 1998 brought the number of new prescriptions for obesity drugs to 561,000 in April 1998. Following the introduction of Nutley, NJ-based Hoffman-La Roche Inc.'s Xenical® in May 1999, new prescriptions totaled 637,000 in June of 1999.

Scott-Levin also indicated that, during the 12 months ending in July 1999, visits to U.S. office-based physicians for obesity increased 11% to 7.1 million.

Frost & Sullivan predicts this upward trend will continue as long as drug companies pay attention to market indicators.

"The key to success in the antiobesity prescription drug market is to develop drugs that will improve the obesity-associated risk factors (such as coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes), assist in the maintenance of weight loss and be safe for long-term treatment," said Paul Woo, pharmaceutical analyst for the healthcare group at Frost & Sullivan. "With the emergence of drugs that can produce tremendous health benefits even beyond weight loss, user attitudes are likely to remain receptive to antiobesity pharmaceuticals."

Woo did caution, however, that certain trends must develop to encourage this market growth into the far future and that research and development must continue to be done to monitor obesity therapies. "A drug that provides an improved efficacy profile or that targets defined populations would be a certain best seller," he said. "Extensive clinical trials are necessary to inspect more closely the safety of the drugs in long-term therapy." PR