- Boehringer Ingelheim is accelerating its efforts to develop an obesity drug competitor to the GLP-1 therapies sold by Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, announcing Thursday plans to start three late-stage trials of an experimental medicine that works similarly.
- The German drugmaker is moving forward with the studies after recently presenting mid-stage trial data with partner Zealand Pharma that showed participants who were overweight or obese lost nearly one-fifth of their body weight after about one year of treatment. Treatment came with notable gastrointestinal side effects, however.
- Boehringer said enrollment in the Phase 3 studies will begin before the end of the year, and that it will announce further details on their design before then.
The clinical and commercial success of Novo’s injections Ozempic and Wegovy, along with Lilly’s rival Mounjaro, has galvanized obesity drug development. Boehringer is one of several drugmakers, including Pfizer and Amgen, seeking to compete with similar therapies.
Like Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro, Boehringer’s drug, dubbed survodutide, targets a protein receptor known as GLP-1 that’s involved in metabolic function. It also works on another, related protein called glucagon receptor.
According to Boehringer, targeting both receptors may help reduce appetite as well as improve energy expenditure.
Lilly has followed a similar development path with Mounjaro, which works on GLP-1 and a protein receptor called GIP, as well as with its experimental “triple G” drug retatrutide, named so because it activates the GLP-1, GIP and glucagon receptors.
Boehringer’s drug was co-invented by Zealand, and is also being studied for treating non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis. The companies have worked together on obesity drug research since 2011.
In addition to survodutide, Zealand is developing a dual GLP-1 agonist, a GIP agonist and another drug that mimics the hormone amylin. Phase 1 trial data for the latter drug were presented in July.