Pfizer plans to be 'very active' in obesity market, but CEO mum on precise R&D plans

Pfizer’s 2024 revival tour is off and running, but the Big Pharma remains mum on one critical component of its future: treating obesity. 

The New York-based drug developer declined to lay out a renewed vision for its metabolic pipeline during its investor call Wednesday, despite investors' clamoring for details. The questions about what’s next followed a dismal year for Pfizer’s initial bets, namely the discontinuation of lotiglipron and the reevaluation of twice-daily danuglipron. 

“Everything is as we have discussed before,” CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., told one investor. He said the company expects more data on the once-daily administration of danuglipron around the middle of the year. Phase 2 data disclosed in December found that twice-daily administration of the drug bested placebo in weight loss but that discontinuation rates exceeded 50% across all treatment doses. The discontinuation rate among the placebo group was 40%. 

Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement at the time that the company would instead focus on once-daily administration of the drug. He’s been largely quiet since, telling Fierce in a February interview that the overall goal is to help patients “not be dependent on an injectable in the refrigerator.” Bourla reiterated Wednesday that future plans will be based on whatever the data show. 

Speaking more broadly about metabolic and obesity investments, Bourla said that the company is “strong” and will keep investing in the space. 

“We will be very active in obesity with current mechanisms of actions and new mechanisms of action,” he said.

Pfizer has three metabolic candidates in the clinic and “multiple” in the preclinical pipeline, according to Bourla. Some are too early to speak about, he added.

“We will continue being very active in the obesity space in one way or another,” he said.