Merck seeks GLP-1 drugs with benefits beyond weight loss – CEO

Jan 4 (Reuters) – Merck & Co (MRK.N) is seeking GLP-1 treatments with benefits beyond weight loss, CEO Robert Davis said on Thursday at a conference.

Newer diabetes and weight-loss drugs of the GLP-1 class like Novo Nordisk’s (NOVOb.CO) Wegovy and Ozempic and Eli Lilly’s (LLY.N) Mounjaro and Zepbound are expected to together generate annual sales of over $100 billion by the end of the decade.

Merck’s experimental drug efinopegdutide, which belongs to the GLP-1 class and is being developed as a treatment for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), also showed a “compelling” weight-loss benefit.

Showing benefits beyond weight loss will potentially make it easier to get reimbursement for the drugs, Davis said.

“I think everyone recognizes weight management is a hard thing to get reimbursed. But if you can show cardiovascular outcome, if you can show diabetes outcome, which you’re starting to see data for, if you can see fatty liver disease benefits…that is an area where we think there’s opportunity,” he said.

GLP-1 drugs, which work by helping control blood sugar levels and triggering a feeling of fullness, are also being studied to see whether they can improve health in other ways.

Data from last year suggested that semaglutide, the active ingredient of Wegovy and Ozempic, may also cut the risk of stroke or heart attack, and may delay the progression of kidney disease in diabetes patients.

Bloomberg was the first to report on Davis’ comments on Thursday.

Reporting by Pratik Jain and Sriparna Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai and Sriraj Kalluvila

Source: Reuters