An experimental treatment for obesity meant to be taken twice a day is heading back to Pfizer’s drawing board. The global pharmaceutical giant announced on Friday, December 1st, that it has halted the development of the drug danuglipron in light of the way participants in the clinical trial lost weight but found themselves dealing with unpleasant side effects.
This cancellation comes on Pfizer’s decision to nix the development of another anti-obesity drug back in June after trial participants were noted to have a steep increase in liver enzymes.
For now, Pfizer has assured the public that information regarding a different danuglipron formulation, this time meant to be taken once a day, will be released sometime next year. The company hopes that the results from these particular clinical trials will guide them forward.
But this does not change the fact that danuglipron may go the same way as numerous other failed anti-obesity drugs that have fallen to the wayside over the years. As recently as 2020, food and drug authorities throughout the world have actively pulled such medications off the shelves.
2020’s casualty was lorcaserin, an experimental anti-obesity solution developed by Japanese pharmaceutical firm Eisai. While the company spent five years testing the product, the drug which was eventually marketed with the brand name Belviq proved to do more harm than good. Around 12,000 patients participating in the clinical trial ended up with cancer, a serious development that led to its removal from the market.
Earlier, in 2008, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned Sanofi’s rimonabant. While the drug helped patients lose weight, it also increased their risk of developing severe psychiatric issues, including suicidal ideation.
Is There a Safer Way to Lose Weight?
Over the past several months, several pharmaceutical firms have shown some degree of success when it comes to crafting weight loss solutions that aren’t just effective but have as little in the way of side effects as possible.
Among those that have shown a respectable modicum of success are Novo Nordisk products Wegovy, which is specifically for obesity, and Ozempic, an anti-diabetes drug prescribed off-label for weight loss. The latter is in direct competition with Mounjaro, an anti-diabetic produced by Eli Lilly, which is also prescribed to those seeking to lose weight.
Indeed, it has been noted in recent clinical trials that Wegovy, in particular, decreased patients’ total risk of dying or becoming severely impaired by cardiovascular issues by as much as 20%.