Biotechs discuss obesity therapies at BIO

No fewer than 20 drug companies are working to find a drug to treat obesity. About $30 billion is spent each year on weight loss products, but only $200 million of that is spent on prescription drugs. At the BIO conference, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Arena Pharmaceuticals and Orexigen Therapeutics representatives discussed the challenges of creating a drug to fight fat.

"I'm delighted that we are having this panel discussion, because if you look at a number of therapeutic areas, obesity stands out as one of the highest unmet medical needs, specifically with its link to hypertension, diabetes and a number of other diseases," said Christian Weyer, executive director of clinical research at Amylin. The challenge is that while losing weight is not that difficult, the human body has evolved in a way that makes keeping it off difficult--as anyone who has ever tried a diet knows. With 80 million obese people in the U.S. alone, the potential market for such a drug is huge--if developers can overcome the challenges.

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