Amgen’s stock saw a significant increase of over 12% after the drugmaker revealed positive initial data on its experimental weight loss injection. This announcement sparked concerns among investors about potential new competition in the rapidly growing weight loss drug market. As a result, shares of the current key players in the obesity drug industry, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, experienced a decline following the news.

Despite Novo Nordisk’s U.S.-traded shares falling more than 1% and Eli Lilly’s shares dropping nearly 3% on Friday, Amgen’s CEO Bob Bradway expressed confidence and enthusiasm during a first-quarter earnings call. He mentioned being “very encouraged” by the early results from a mid-stage study on Amgen’s obesity injection, MariTide. The focus on MariTide and the rest of Amgen’s weight loss drug pipeline has intensified as the company competes with other drugmakers to establish a presence in the booming weight loss market.

Amgen’s Chief Scientific Officer Jay Bradner provided insight into the progress of the study, indicating that patient dropout has not been a concern. The company plans to release initial data from the study in late 2024 and is preparing for late-stage studies involving patients with obesity, obesity-related conditions, and diabetes. The potential competitive advantages of MariTide, particularly its convenience of a hand-held autoinjector administered once a month or less frequently, were highlighted as significant factors that could differentiate it from existing therapies.

According to William Blair analyst Matt Phipps, there has been debate over the efficacy and safety of MariTide, but growing confidence in its potential to differentiate from other therapies. He upgraded the rating on Amgen shares to “outperform” based on this assessment. Additionally, the decision to scrap the experimental oral obesity drug was overshadowed by the positive updates on MariTide, emphasizing the importance of the latter in Amgen’s product portfolio.

Amgen’s announcement of expanding manufacturing for MariTide signals a proactive approach to address potential supply concerns. The company’s focus on production capacity comes at a crucial time when competitors like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have faced challenges in meeting demand for their respective products. The move to ramp up manufacturing reflects Amgen’s commitment to ensuring sufficient supply of MariTide to meet market needs.

While Eli Lilly has demonstrated optimism regarding overcoming supply constraints for its popular drugs, Novo Nordisk has faced challenges in meeting demand for Wegovy, especially in light of increased competition from Eli Lilly’s Zepbound. The pricing dynamics in the U.S. market have been impacted by the rivalry between these two key players, with Chief Financial Officer Karsten Munk Knudsen acknowledging the downward pressure on “net pricing” for Wegovy and Ozempic throughout the year.

Amgen’s stock rise and the unveiling of positive data on MariTide have injected a new dimension of competition and innovation in the weight loss drug industry. As key players like Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly navigate challenges and opportunities in the market, the emergence of new therapies like MariTide could reshape the landscape of obesity treatment and offer patients more personalized and convenient options for managing their weight.


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