Lilly trumpets new weight-loss data with Mounjaro

Lilly trumpets new weight-loss data with Mounjaro

Eli Lilly’s new therapy Mounjaro has aced a second phase 3 trial as a treatment of obesity or being overweight, this time in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The results of the SURMOUNT-2 showed that the injectable dual GLP-1/GIP agonist helped patients lose around 16% of their body weight, reinforcing the results of the SURMOUNT-1 study last year, which found a 22.5% reduction in people who were overweight, but who did not have diabetes. It’s well recognised that losing weight tends to be harder in diabetic patients.

Shares in Lilly tracked up around 3% after the announcement, amid anticipation that Mounjaro (tirzepatide) has a chance to become a go-to therapy for obesity, with strong activity across the spectrum of diabetic and non-diabetic patients.

The new data emerged as the drugmaker raised its annual revenue forecast after reporting sales of Mounjaro – already approved as a diabetes therapy – which were well ahead of projections, coming in at $569 million in the first quarter. It made $280 million in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Lilly also said the SURMOUNT-2 data would allow it to complete its rolling licensing application for Mounjaro in obesity, adding that the drug has a chance of approval before the end of the year.

“SURMOUNT-1 set a new bar for weight loss possible from a pharmacologic agent in non-type 2 diabetes population with obesity or [who were] overweight in a phase 3 trial,” said Lilly's chief executive, David Ricks, on a conference call. “And SURMOUNT-2 does the same in the type 2 diabetes population,” he added.

The gathering momentum with Mounjaro could spell trouble for Novo Nordisk, which has seen sales of its injectable GLP-1 agonist obesity Wegovy (semaglutide) rocket on high demand that has outstripped the company’s ability to supply the drug.

Last year, Wegovy made almost $1 billion, but Mounjaro’s early sales trajectory suggests it could make rapid inroads in obesity if approved.

While it is challenging to draw comparisons between clinical trials, the top-line weight reduction achieved with Wegovy in diabetic patients was just under 10%, which points to a slightly greater efficacy in this population for Mounjaro. That echoes what was seen in the non-diabetic group, where Novo Nordisk’s drug reduced weight by 16%.

Lilly is hoping to get hard data to back up the notion that Mounjaro may be more effective by running a head-to-head study comparing the two drugs, called SURMOUNT-5, in non-diabetic overweight or obese patients.