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Viking Therapeutics weight loss drug shows promising trial results

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Shares of Viking Therapeutics soared more than 80% in premarket trading Tuesday after the company’s experimental weight loss drug showed promising initial results in a mid-stage trial. 

Viking Therapeutics is one of several small obesity drugmakers hoping to enter the budding weight loss drug industry, which analysts say could grow into a $100 billion market by the end of the decade. 

But it may not join that space on its own: Analysts have suggested that larger pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, which scrapped two of its own weight loss drug candidates last year, could potentially move to acquire a company like Viking Therapeutics. 

The trial followed more than 170 patients with obesity, some of whom received different dose sizes of the injectable dug or a placebo. Those who received weekly doses of the treatment lost up to 14.7% of their body weight after 13 weeks. 

Up to 88% of patients who received the drug, known as VK2735, achieved at least 10% weight loss, compared to just 4% of those who didn’t receive the treatment. 

Notably, there was no evidence of a plateau in weight reduction at week 13 for any dose of the drug, suggesting that “further weight loss might be achieved” by keeping patients on the treatment longer, Viking CEO Brian Lian said during a call with investors. 

The drug demonstrated “encouraging” safety in patients following the 13-week trial period. Patients also appeared to tolerate the drug well. 

Viking plans to present the full phase 2 data at medical conferences. The company also said it plans to meet with the Food and Drug Administration to discuss further steps for the development of VK2735.

Separately, the company said it expects to release early-stage trial data on an oral version of its weight loss drug.

Viking Therapeutics’ drug targets GLP-1 and another hormone called GIP. Those are the same hormones that Eli Lilly’s weight loss and diabetes drugs, Zepbound and Mounjaro, target.

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