Weight watcher: Innovent catching up with Lilly, Novo Nordisk thanks to phase 2 obesity data

Innovent is catching up with the likes of Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk as the Chinese pharma’s own obesity drug sailed past the primary endpoint of a phase 2 trial.

The study assessed the effects of the drug, mazdutide, in 230 Chinese participants who were overweight or obese. The proportion of individuals with 5% or more body weight loss from baseline after 24 weeks was 58.1% for those taking a 3-mg dose, 82.5% taking 4.5 mg and 80.3% on 6 mg, compared with 4.8% with placebo. While no patients on placebo achieved a 10% or more reduction in their weight, this was the case for 19.4% of those on the 3-mg dose, 49.2% of those on the 4.5-mg dose and 50.8% of those on the 6-mg dose, the company reported June 8.

The drug, a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R)/glucagon receptor (GCGR) dual agonist, also markedly reduced body-mass index, waist circumference, liver fat content and blood pressure, as well as lowered lipid, transaminase and serum uric acid levels, and improved insulin sensitivity, Innovent added.

Mazdutide was well tolerated overall, with a safety profile similar to other GLP-1-based agonists and co-agonists. The most frequently reported treatment-emergent adverse events were diarrhea, nausea and upper respiratory tract infection.

An auto-injector was used to administer the drug for the study, which improved both compliance and the patients’ quality of life, Innovent said.

"These results demonstrate the great utility value of GLP-1R/GCGR dual agonist, further demonstrating the potential to be the best-in-class agent and paving solid foundation for further clinical development,” Lei Qian, Ph.D., vice president of clinical development of Innovent, said in a statement.

The company is planning a phase 3 trial of the drug with the anticipation of more clinical data to come later in the year, he added.

The obesity drug market is already set for a shake-up, with Lilly posting phase 3 data in April that suggests its dual GIP/GLP-1 agonist tirzepatide poses a threat to Novo’s semaglutide, sold as Wegovy. Between 89% and 96% of participants on tirzepatide had a 5% or greater body weight reduction after 72 weeks, compared to 28% in the placebo group, according to that trial.