Pfizer's pill outperforms the competition in trials as the weight-loss race heats up

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 by Snacks
Getty Images / Mario Tama

Getty Images / Mario Tama

A pill a day… keeps the injections away? A new Pfizer drug could shake up a weight-loss industry already undergoing an overhaul. A peer-reviewed study showed that, in phase-two clinical trials, patients taking Pfizer’s twice-daily pill lost a similar amount of weight as those taking Novo Nordisk's injectable Ozempic — but shed pounds almost twice as fast. Pfizer shares popped yesterday after the news.

  • Ozem-fluencers: Ozempic and a similar drug, Wegovy (also made by Novo Nordisk), have become associated with red-carpet celebs looking to lean down.

  • Off-label demand for Ozempic, which is FDA approved to treat type 2 diabetes but not weight loss, has led to shortages for people who rely on the drug to control their blood sugar.

Bulking up… If approved by the FDA, Pfizer’s pill could become a key player in a growing weight-loss industry supercharged by demand for blockbuster drugs. Last year Ozempic and Wegovy did about $10B in sales. Experts say that a similar drug from Eli Lilly could do $25B+ in annual revenue, and that the broader market could hit $100B in a decade. FYI: obesity affects over 40% of US adults.


Innovations can upend solid foundations… and the ground under the weight-loss industry — which racked up $76B in sales last year — is shaking. Case in point: last month, WW International (aka: WeightWatchers) finalized its purchase of Sequence, a telehealth that puts patients in touch with docs who can prescribe drugs like Wegovy, illustrating how quickly the OG industry has pivoted. If approved, a new generation of oral meds like Pfizer’s pill could again jolt the market.

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