COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk said on Friday a phase 2 trial for its big hope in tackling obesity, an improved GLP-1 drug called semaglutide, showed a weight loss of up to 13.8 percent in people with severe conditions.
The clinical trial, which lasted a year and included 957 people, resulted in a weight loss up to 17.8 kg after 52 weeks of treatment with semaglutide from a mean baseline weight of around 111 kg and a body mass index of around 39, Novo said.
That corresponded to an estimated weight loss of 13.8 percent compared to the 2.3 percent achieved by diet, exercise and placebo alone, it said.
"We are very excited about these strong results and the potential of semaglutide as a new treatment for people with obesity," chief science officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said in a statement.
Semaglutide is being tested for both types of diabetes. Novo Nordisk expects the phase 3 program with semaglutide to confirm these results to begin in 2018, Thomsen said.
Novo hopes semaglutide will reduce weight significantly more than the 5-10 percent seen with Saxenda, an anti-obesity injection launched in 2015 and containing the same GLP-1 ingredient as its popular diabetes drug Victoza.
"What will really open the obesity market is efficacy," Chief Executive Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen said in an interview in May. "You probably have to get toward 15 percent for the market to fully open up."
Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, editing by David Evans