Eli Lilly has achieved significant gains in the past quarter, leading to it becoming the most valuable pharmaceutical company in the world, with a market cap of $420bn, surpassing Johnson & Johnson. The recent rallying of Lilly’s market value has come as the result of two major announcements: its blockbuster type 2 diabetes (T2D) drug Mounjaro (tirzepatide) successfully completed its second final-stage trial for obesity, and its experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease completed its Phase III trial. Mounjaro’s approval for obesity, particularly in the US and EU markets, means the drug is entering a significantly large market where it will have direct competition from Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy (semaglutide), which is currently the leading glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) therapy approved for obesity by both the FDA and EMA. There have been several Phase III trials for Mounjaro, with SURMOUNT-1 demonstrating a weight loss of up to 22.5% of patients’ body weight (52lb or 24kg) and greater than 50% of patients taking Mounjaro achieving at least 20% body weight reductions. In addition, Mounjaro is estimated to gain sales of around $20bn by 2030 and become the leading GLP-1 in the obesity market, as well as in T2D.
Lilly’s blockbuster therapy to tackle the global obesity pandemic will undoubtedly gain widespread adoption by patients and providers. The therapy will prove a popular alternative to bariatric surgery, compared to which Mounjaro has been found to have the equivalent weight loss. In 2022, Lilly reported sales for Mounjaro were approximately $500m, but this is expected to increase significantly in 2023 due to strong demand for the T2D drug. A decision from the FDA is possible for later this year, with Lilly currently finalizing an application for fast-track approval. Key opinion leaders (KOLs) have reported that they have not seen a drug with similar efficacy in terms of weight loss and are highly keen to prescribe the therapy for patients with T2D and obesity, or those with obesity and high risk for T2D and other cardiorenal comorbidities. Mounjaro’s approval in 2022 for T2D has already led to many prescribers providing the therapy off-label to their patients to help them lose weight. Lilly is currently in the midst of initiating a head-to-head Phase IIIb trial for Mounjaro in comparison to Wegovy, which the company expects to conclude in early 2025. Current data has indicated that Mounjaro is superior to Wegovy; however, Lilly is looking to confirm this with the Phase IIIb trial and confirm Mounjaro’s likely market position as the leading GLP-1 in T2D and the leading therapy in the obesity market. GlobalData predicts that Eli Lilly will remain one of the most highly valued pharmaceutical companies as a result of Mounjaro and that due to the significant weight loss that is induced, the drug is likely to become the leading therapy in obesity and T2D.
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