The advent of a new drug for the treatment of obesity — Lorcaserin (Arena Pharmaceuticals), marketed by Eisai under the brand name Belviq — will change the landscape of the obesity treatment market, but for any stakeholder in this field knows, this is no surprise.
Having finally wrested approval from the FDA, Lorcaserin’s addition to the list of obesity treatments was only surprising in the length of the approval process or, more specifically, that the FDA denied Lorcaserin’s approval in 2010, only to drive Arena for more data to satisfy concerns about potential links to cancer and heart valve risk.
The approval was expected, as are approvals for multiple other obesity drugs as well as obesity device treatments. Given the seemingly relentless growth in obesity worldwide, the well-documented data on obesity’s numerous co-morbidities, their associated costs in an increasingly cost-sensitive healthcare market and the recognition by manufacturers of the market opportunity, the only question remained how and when new treatment options would become available and the net effect of all options on the obesity market.
Despite the momentary hesitation by the FDA on Lorcaserin, there is now a predictable course in the market for obesity treatment options.
As illustrated in the graph (source: MedMarket Diligence, report #S835) in this post, the outlook from 2009 to 2019 for obesity drugs and devices on a worldwide basis will see a dramatic increase in the aggregate size of the obesity market and a proliferation of options to the clinician.