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Shares of Structure Therapeutics rose more than 30% on Friday after the biotech startup’s experimental obesity pill succeeded in a small early-stage trial.
The once-daily drug helped overweight or obese participants reduce up to 10 pounds of weight on average after four weeks of treatment, according to a release from the company. Structure said it plans to test its pill in two longer midstage trials as a treatment for diabetes and obesity.
Structure’s pill is part of the same class of drugs as Novo Nordisk‘s blockbuster diabetes drug Ozempic and weight loss counterpart Wegovy.
Those treatments, known as GLP-1s, have soared in popularity this year due to their ability to help patients lose unwanted pounds. GLP-1s mimic a hormone produced in the gut to suppress a person’s appetite.
Companies like Structure are trying to capitalize on the booming obesity drug industry, which analysts say could be a $100 billion global market by the end of the decade.
Structure’s pill could potentially compete with oral obesity drugs from Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Pfizer, which are not approved in the U.S. yet. Analysts say the arrival of cheaper, more convenient pill versions of the GLP-1s could increase access for patients and expand the market for obesity drugs.
Pills are easier to manufacture than injections, making them less likely to run into the supply shortages plaguing injectable drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s diabetes drug Mounjaro. Pills are also typically cheaper than injections, though it’s unclear if that will be the case with the obesity treatments.
Wegovy’s list price tops $1,300 per monthly package, and Ozempic’s is about $935. Novo Nordisk has a diabetes pill called Rybelsus, which has the same list price as Ozempic for a monthly package of 30 tablets.
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