The average time to bring a new drug to market is 10 years and the price tag often soars close to $1 billion by the time research, development and clinical trials are completed. This level of investment means that pharmaceutical firms will work hard to promote their offerings to consumers and physicians. Recently, pharmaceutical companies have been hard at work developing a new class of weight-loss drugs and are nearing review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The introduction of these drugs could be a game-changer in the U.S. consumer's constant battle to maintain a health weight.
A survey conducted by Ipsos Vantis found that between ½ and 2/3’s of physicians say they are likely to prescribe these medications to their patients. Nearly 2/3’s of U.S. consumers are overweight. Physicians believe that helping consumers reduce their weight will also reduce the incidence of diabetes and hypertension, says Thomas Young, Vice President with Ipsos Vantis’ Healthcare practice. Young also points out that the current class of medications has not proved sufficiently effective and in some cases produces undesirable side effects. But even as physicians say they would make these new medications part of a standard therapy treatment, they understand that the products may not be covered by insurance, initially.
Late last week, an FDA panel recommended against approval of 1 of these drugs, Arena Pharmaceutical’s lorcaserin. The final FDA decision is expected in October. The other 2 drugs in this pipeline are Qnexa from Vivus and Contrave from Orexigen Therapeutics. Ipsos Vantis analysts expect a sales volume of up to $400 million annually within 5 years of launch, if FDA approval is secured.
This type of anticipated sales volume will certainly be supported by a significant direct to consumer and physician marketing campaign.[Sources: FDA Briefing Document. NDA 22529. www.fda.gov. 16 Sept. 2010. Web. 24 Sept. 2010; Ipsos Vantis Study Finds Majority Support. Ipsos N.A. Ipsos-na.com. 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 24 Sept. 2010]