Arguably, the biggest threat in the field of healthcare is the looming problem of obesity on a global scale. At the same time, healthcare systems around the world face a unique opportunity in dealing with obesity as a means to tackle a large number of direct and, more importantly, indirect costs that ensue from it. The incidence of obesity has a very high correlation with diabetes, heart disease and other high volume conditions that result in ever-increasing healthcare costs. For example, evidence is already very strong that addressing obesity in Type 2 diabetic can actually eliminate Type 2 diabetes in these patients.
It is for this reason that manufacturers of drugs and devices focused on obesity have been very aggressive in developing new treatments. The dynamics of the marketplace, however, especially considering the biggest market for obesity treatments — the U.S. market — are characterized by almost too-rapid growth of available treatment options (one need only see the liability issues resulting from excessive Lap-Band [Allergan] utilization or the prior fen-phen problems) that reflect a recognition of both an awareness by healthcare systems of the severity of the problem and the opportunity medical device and drug manufacturers see in targeting obesity with new treatment options.
The U.S., with its growing baby boomer population, high incidence of obesity and apparent willingness to spend healthcare dollars regardless of their available funding, represents a market with enormous potential. Regulatory and market decisions in 2010 that resulted in adverse results for the major U.S. drug manufacturers (Orexigen, Arena, and Vivus) have now been followed by reconciliatory moves by the FDA (or at least it seems this way) that may lead to approvals in as early as 2012. That is where big upside lies in obesity treatments. Concurrently, however, a significant potential exists for obesity treatments to gain market footholds in Europe, unencumbered by the seemingly capricious decisions of the FDA.
Below is illustrated the projected 2019 European drug and device markets (sales in U.S. $ millions) for the clinical management of obesity. As is apparent in this, there is a substantial distribution of revenue expected across both drugs and devices in this market.
Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S835.