Viking Therapeutics becomes rival

Viking Therapeutics emerges as competitor

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Biotech business Viking Therapeutics has actually become a strong possible entrant– or takeover target– in the budding weight reduction drug market.

Viking is simply among a number of business racing to sign up with the growing area. Some experts state the marketplace might be worth $100 billion by the end of the years.

Viking intends to take on injectable drugs from Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk Their treatments stimulated the weight reduction drug market gold rush over the previous year in spite of their large price and barriers to insurance protection.

Some Wall Street experts stated Viking’s speculative weight problems treatment might be “best-in-class.” In a midstage trial, an injectable variation of Viking’s drug appeared to promote even higher weight reduction than Eli Lilly’s Zepbound.

Viking provided a very first look at information from that research study on Tuesday, and its shares skyrocketed 120%. The appealing outcomes make the business an outstanding possible gamer in a market that will likely have space for more entrants in the coming years.

Goldman Sachs tasks that in between 10 million and 70 million Americans will be taking weight reduction drugs by2028 Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk have actually likewise had a hard time to use adequate supply of their treatments, providing other business a possibility to win market share.

The brand-new information likewise makes Viking a more appealing offer target for bigger business attempting to get into the area or broaden their weight problems treatment offerings.

It’s prematurely to state whether Viking’s drug might have an edge over existing or establishing weight reduction treatments. It’s challenging to compare treatments without pitting them head to head in the exact same medical trial.

Viking likewise requires to perform a late-stage research study on its drug, and most likely will not release the injection till the later part of the years. The little business deals with obstacles to going into the marketplace, such as making enough of the drug to satisfy growing need. But an acquisition by a bigger business might assist resolve a few of those problems.

Data recommends Viking’s drug might have an edge

Viking’s stage 2 trial followed more than 170 clients who are obese or overweight. They got various dosage sizes of the injectable drug or a placebo.

The trial did not straight compare Viking’s treatment to other drugs. Still, lots of experts compared Viking’s injection to Eli Lilly’s Zepbound, mostly due to the fact that they work the exact same method.

An injection pen of Zepbound, Eli Lilly’s weight reduction drug, is shown in New York City onDec 11, 2023.

Brendan Mcdermid|Reuters

Both drugs mimic 2 naturally produced gut hormonal agents called GLP-1 and GIP. GLP helps in reducing food consumption and cravings. GIP, which likewise reduces cravings, might likewise enhance how the body breaks down sugar and fat.

Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk’s weight reduction injection Wegovy just targets GLP-1.

Analysts were especially impressed by the weight clients lost after they took the greatest dosage of Viking’s drug. Those who got a weekly 15 milligram dosage of the treatment lost 13.1% of their body weight usually after 13 weeks compared to those who took the placebo.

Notably, there was no proof of a plateau in weight decrease at week 13 for any dosage of the drug. That recommends that “further weight loss might be achieved” by keeping clients on the treatment longer, Viking CEO Brian Lian stated throughout a call with financiers onTuesday

Viking’s drug information reveals a “best-in-class profile” amongst both authorized and speculative weight reduction drugs with stage 2 trials, William Blair expert Andy Hsieh composed in a noteTuesday Eli Lilly’s Zepbound produced approximately 7% weight reduction relative to a placebo after 12 weeks in a stage 3 medical trial, Hsieh kept in mind.

Viking’s drug likewise appears to leading Novo Nordisk’s weight reduction injection Wegovy, according to a different Tuesday note from BTIG experts.

Based on chart information from a stage 3 trial, the experts approximated that Wegovy triggered around 5% weight reduction at 13 weeks compared to a placebo.

Meanwhile, a number of experts approximated that some dosages of Eli Lilly’s speculative injection, retatrutide, triggered in between 9% and 13% weight reduction relative to a placebo at 13 weeks based upon chart information from a midstage trial.

The bulk of negative negative effects that clients experienced after beginning Viking’s drug were moderate or moderate. Many of those circumstances were intestinal, which prevails throughout all weight reduction and diabetes treatments.

Around 20% of clients who took the 15 milligram variation of Viking’s drug ceased treatment early in the research study. That compares to around 14% of those taking the placebo who stopped early in the trial.

But Jefferies expert Akash Tewari composed in a note Tuesday that Viking’s trial utilized much faster “titration” in clients. That describes increasing the dosage size a client takes control of time till they reach a target dose level.

He stated Viking might have the ability to make its drug much easier for clients to endure in a future trial with slower titration, which might possibly decrease the treatment’s effectiveness.

Viking still has a long method to go

Despite the engaging information, Viking has even more work to do before it can complete in the weight reduction drug market.

The business prepares to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later on this year to talk about a scientific advancement prepare for the treatment.

Viking CEO Brian Lian informed financiers on a call Tuesday that the business will likely perform another stage 2 trial that might last 6 to 9 months.

Jefferies’ Tewari approximates that Viking’s treatment will not reach the marketplace till 2029 or later on. A late-stage trial on the drug might be prolonged. Eli Lilly’s stage 3 research study on Zepbound lasted 2 and a half to 3 years.

The late entryway of Viking’s drug is one reason that Tewari does not think the business will meaningfully cut into Eli Lilly’s market.

The pharmaceutical giant might likewise release a slate of other weight reduction treatments over the next couple of years that might have benefits over Zepbound, whether they use more weight reduction or benefit. They consist of Eli Lilly’s speculative tablet orforglipron and the commonly enjoyed retatrutide, which simulates 3 gut hormonal agents rather of 2.

An Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical factory is visualized in Branchburg, New Jersey, on March 5, 2021.

Mike Segar|Reuters

Analysts from Deutsche Bank included a note Tuesday that making the treatments “at scale to meet outsized demand has proven to be no easy feat.” They stated that provides Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk a “defensive moat” versus competitors.

Viking acknowledged this difficulty on the callTuesday Lian stated the business has enough supply of the drug to support its medical trials, however its production capability is inadequate for an industrial rollout.

But Lian kept in mind that the business is “spending a lot of time” assessing several production procedures to comprehend “what’s fastest, what’s highest yielding, what’s cheapest and what’s most scalable.”

Partnerships, buyouts are on the table

Viking’s excellent information might make it an appealing target for a takeover or collaboration with a big pharmaceutical business. That might provide Viking the business and making abilities required to complete in the weight reduction drug market.

William Blair’s Hsieh included that big pharmaceutical business might take full advantage of the worth of Viking’s treatment due to the fact that they might much better browse the refund and compensation landscape for weight reduction drugs.

Some experts anticipate other business to have high interest in Viking.

“This very well could be on the shopping list for any large-cap pharma or biotech company that wants to be in the obesity market but currently doesn’t have a drug. There are plenty of them out there,” Oppenheimer expert Jay Olson informed CNBC.

He included that a business might “pay a pretty significant premium for Viking and pick this up … for a relatively low price compared to the potential that exists for a drug like this.” As of Friday, Viking had a market cap of more than $8.5 billion.

Injection pens of Novo Nordisk’s weight reduction drug Wegovy are displayed in this image in Oslo, Norway, onNov 21, 2023.

Victoria Klesty|Reuters

Viking is an enticing offer target due to the fact that of more than simply the brand-new information. Wall Street is excited for the business to launch early-stage trial results on an oral variation of its weight reduction treatment this quarter.

The BTIG experts kept in mind that the copyright protection for both variations of the drug extends beyond 2040, “boding well” for possible collaboration conversations.

Viking likewise has other drugs in advancement, consisting of an appealing oral treatment for a particular kind of liver illness. Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and other drugmakers are likewise racing to see whether their drugs can deal with that exact same condition.

Viking hasn’t divulged any information about its conversations with possible partners. But the business has “always been open to partner discussions since day one, so we’re always opportunistically evaluating whatever is presented to us,” Lian stated throughout Viking’s fourth-quarter incomes call last month.

Other drugmakers have actually pursued offers over the previous year to take an area in the weight reduction drug market.

Swiss business Roche stated it would purchase the independently held U.S. weight problems drugmaker Carmot Therapeutics for $2.7 billion. As traZeneca signed a licensing arrangement with Chinese biotech business Eccogene to establish a weight problems tablet.

Even Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have actually gotten smaller sized weight problems drug business this year to keep their supremacy in the market.

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