☀️☕️ GLP1ng down Obesity Drugs - more than a 2-horse race

📊 Also: S&P cools; Japan records but still under 40K; Bertie knows 🎓 New Drug Testing Phases

📈 Market Roundup [27-Feb-24]

US large-cap S&P 500 closed 0.38% DOWN 🔻

Tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite closed 0.13% DOWN 🔻

Pan European STOXX Europe 600 closed 0.37% DOWN 🔻

HK/China's Hang Seng Index closed 0.54% DOWN 🔻

Japan's broad TOPIX closed 0.49% UP ▲

📝 Focus

  • GLP1ng down Obesity Drugs - more than a 2-horse race

📊 In the Markets

  • S&P cools; Japan records but still under 40K; Bertie knows

📖 MoneyFitt Explains

  • 🎓 New Drug Testing Phases

💸 Personal Finance Corner

📝 Focus

GLP1ng down Obesity Drugs - more than a 2-horse race

Danish drugmaker Zealand Pharma's shares surged 36% to push its gains in the last year to over 180% after positive mid-stage (“Phase 2”) trial🎓 results for its experimental liver disease treatment, survodutide, showed promise in addressing an obesity-related condition called MASH, a severe form of NAFLD (see below), with no current therapy available.

Global investors may only care a little (or nothing) about treating 115 million people worldwide except that the new drug mimics a gut hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which both Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are mimicking to suppress appetite in their blockbuster obesity drugs, Wegovy/ Ozempic (semaglutide) and Mounjaro/ Zepbound (tirzepatide.)

The drug, developed with privately-held Boehringer Ingelheim, saw 83% of participants experiencing improvement in MASH compared to 18% in the placebo group. It may potentially launch in 2027 or 2028, though possibly focusing on weight-loss, having had good Phase 2🎓 results last June, reducing body weight by close to 19% (Mounjaro 22.5%, Wegovy 15-17%.)

Functions of the GLP-1 gut hormone- Image credit: Lthoms11,  CC-BY-SA-4.0

..... ▷ The enormous demand for weight-loss treatments could support as many as 10 competing products, with annual sales reaching up to $100 billion within a decade in the United States alone, industry executives and researchers estimate. 

Besides Novo Nordisk, the first on the market, and Eli Lilly, its key rival, big players like Pfizer, Roche, Amgen and AstraZeneca, as well as smaller players like Zealand, Altimmune, Terns Pharmaceuticals, Viking Therapeutics and Structure Therapeutics, are all rushing to get their slice of the juicy market in the class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists. 

..... ▷ Originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, a massive and fast-growing global epidemic (NIH estimates 462mn in 2017 and 783mn by 2045), these control blood sugar, affect hunger signals to the brain and slow the rate at which stomachs empty, hence suppressing the appetite. 

Hence, their use in obesity treatment, an even bigger epidemic. 

According to the WHO, over 1.9 billion adults (aged 18+) were overweight in 2016, with over 650 million classified as obese, or 39% and 13% of all adults, respectively. The prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. 

In the US alone, over 42% of adults aged 20 and over are obese, which translates to over 137 million Americans. 10.5% of US adults have diabetes (of which 90-95% is type 2.)

Metabolic Health / NAFLD Geek Corner

MASH (Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Steatohepatitis) is a liver condition characterised by inflammation and liver damage due to excess fat accumulation, and with risk factors including obesity, diabetes and high blood lipids.

It is a more severe form of NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or “naffle-D”), a broad term for the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little to no alcohol. The condition often results from a diet-related build-up of fat, causing inflammation that may lead to potentially deadly cirrhosis or liver scarring.

NAFLD is also closely associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that occur together and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess abdominal fat. 

Longevity expert Dr. Peter Attia emphasises metabolic health as a key pillar of longevity, arguing that poor metabolic health significantly increases the risk of developing chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, ultimately shortening lifespan and healthspan.

Dr. Lecter is not on the board of Zealand Pharma (as far as we know)- Image credit: The Silence of The Lambs (1991) / Orion Pictures via Tenor

📊 In the Markets

Stocks in the US ended Monday with modest losses as investors shifted focus from last week's AI-driven rally to upcoming economic data that could influence the timing of the Federal Reserve's anticipated interest rate cut. 

The release of January's personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE) on Thursday, the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, could temper recent optimism if it shows insufficient cooling of price pressures. 

Nasdaq declines were offset by Micron Technology's 4.02% gain, commencing mass production of high-bandwidth memory semiconductors for Nvidia's latest AI chip. 

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway dipped 1.94% amid concerns over a potential lawsuit against its power company, PacifiCorp.

“She is sensible – very sensible – instinctively knowing that pundits should always be ignored… After all, if she could reliably predict tomorrow’s winners, would she freely share her valuable insights and thereby increase competitive buying? That would be like finding gold and then handing a map to the neighbours showing its location.”

Warren Buffett, on his sister Bertie, whose ownership of Berkshire spans decades

European markets dipped on Monday, with the Stoxx 600 sliding 0.2% from its record high last week. Investors awaited upcoming inflation data. Global economy-sensitive mining fell 1.7%, while technology inched up 0.35%.

Japan's Nikkei 225 surged to a new high, closing 0.4% up at 39,233.71, surpassing its previous record and breaching the 1989 all-time high. 

Moving the other direction, and ending its nine-day, Chinese New Year break-spanning winning streak, China's CSI 300 index dropped 1.04%.

📖 MoneyFitt Explains

🎓 New Drug Testing Phases

These phases are sequential stages of testing that a new drug must undergo before it can be approved for marketing and use by regulatory agencies such as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States. 

  • Phase 0: This is a preclinical phase where the drug is tested in animals to see how it is absorbed, distributed, metabolised, and excreted.

  • Phase 1: This is a clinical phase where the drug is tested in a small group of healthy volunteers to see how it is tolerated and to get an idea of its side effects.

  • Phase 2: This is a clinical phase where the drug is tested in a larger group of people with the condition that the drug is intended to treat.

  • Phase 3: This is a clinical phase where the drug is tested in a large group of people with the condition that the drug is intended to treat to see how effective it is and to compare it to other treatments.

  • Phase 4: This is a post-marketing phase where the drug is monitored in a large group of people to see how it performs in the real world and to identify any rare side effects.

💸 Personal Finance Corner

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