Five obesity-drug trends to watch in 2024: Who can compete with Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk? 

December 24, 2023 | by


In 2024, the obesity-drug market is set to witness a fierce competition between pharmaceutical giants, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, as they continue to dominate with their new drugs, Zepbound and retatrutide, respectively. As drugmakers strive to carve out their place in this lucrative market, key clinical-trial data will determine the future competitors in the industry. With the market projected to reach $100 billion in the next five to seven years, there is a heightened focus on innovation and acquisitions. Amidst these developments, the accessibility of pill versions of popular GLP-1 drugs is anticipated to improve, albeit with setbacks in the development of oral drugs. Moreover, several drugs in the pipeline aim to address the significant challenge of preserving muscle while promoting weight loss. With mounting evidence of the health benefits of obesity drugs, insurance coverage is expected to improve, and there may be an increase in Medicare coverage in the near future. As the industry forges ahead, more dealmaking and partnerships are also anticipated, potentially involving companies like Viking Therapeutics and Zealand Pharma. The coming years promise to be a dynamic and transformative period for the obesity-drug market.

Five obesity-drug trends to watch in 2024: Who can compete with Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk? 

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Market Innovations and Acquisitions


In the constantly evolving pharmaceutical industry, drugmakers are continuously seeking new innovations and acquisitions to gain a competitive edge in various markets. The obesity-drug market is no exception, as companies are actively pursuing opportunities to challenge the dominance of industry giants such as Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. By driving advancements in drug development and forging strategic partnerships, these companies hope to carve out a significant share of the market and offer improved treatments for individuals struggling with obesity.

Competition against Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk

When it comes to the obesity-drug market, two major players have long held a significant market share: Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk. However, the landscape is shifting as new challengers enter the arena. These emerging companies are poised to compete fiercely against the established giants, armed with innovative drugs that show promising potential in clinical trials.

In order to better compete against Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, drugmakers are closely monitoring key clinical-trial data due to be released in 2024. This data will provide crucial insights into the effectiveness and safety of new obesity drugs, helping to determine which companies will emerge as strong contenders in the market. With so much at stake, the competition in 2024 is expected to be intense, reshaping the dynamics of the obesity-drug market.

Projected Growth of the Obesity-Drug Market

Market Size Projection

The obesity-drug market is anticipated to experience significant growth in the next five to seven years, with experts projecting it to reach a value of $100 billion. This remarkable expansion is driven by several factors, including the rising prevalence of obesity around the world and the increasing recognition of the health risks associated with the condition. As governments and healthcare systems become more proactive in addressing this public health concern, the demand for effective obesity drugs is poised to skyrocket.

Timeline for Growth

Although the projected growth of the obesity-drug market is substantial, it is essential to understand that this expansion will not occur overnight. Pharmaceutical companies are well aware of the lengthy process involved in drug development, clinical trials, and regulatory approval. As such, the timeline for growth in the market will span several years, allowing companies to refine their products, gather sufficient clinical data, and navigate various regulatory hurdles before reaching commercialization.

Factors Driving Market Growth

Several key factors are expected to drive the significant growth of the obesity-drug market in the coming years. Firstly, there is a growing recognition of the urgent need for effective treatments to combat obesity and its associated comorbidities. As the public becomes increasingly aware of the detrimental health impacts of obesity, there is a heightened demand for viable solutions.

Furthermore, the rise in government initiatives aimed at addressing obesity is expected to fuel market growth. Governments worldwide are implementing policies and programs to tackle obesity as a public health crisis. These efforts often involve partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to facilitate access to obesity drugs and promote overall weight management.

Lastly, advancements in medical technology and research are enabling drugmakers to develop more targeted and efficacious obesity drugs. With a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of obesity, pharmaceutical companies can develop innovative therapies that are more tailored to individuals’ needs, resulting in improved treatment outcomes.

Five obesity-drug trends to watch in 2024: Who can compete with Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk? 

Potential Winners in 2024

Eli Lilly’s Zepbound

Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical powerhouse, is poised for success in 2024 with its groundbreaking drug, Zepbound. This innovative therapy has shown immense promise in clinical trials, demonstrating significant weight loss among participants and a favorable safety profile. If approved, Zepbound could revolutionize the obesity-drug market, offering a novel treatment option for individuals struggling with obesity. Eli Lilly’s extensive experience and resources position them as a frontrunner in the market, capable of bringing Zepbound to a wide patient population.

Novo Nordisk’s Retatrutide

Novo Nordisk, another industry giant, is also expected to emerge as a winner in 2024 with its highly anticipated drug, Retatrutide. This innovative therapy has demonstrated impressive efficacy in clinical trials, yielding substantial weight loss results. Retatrutide’s formulation and mechanism of action differentiate it from existing obesity drugs, making it a unique contender in the market. Novo Nordisk’s existing market presence and robust research capabilities place them in a strong position to capitalize on the potential success of Retatrutide and enhance their market share.

M&A and Partnerships in the Obesity-Drug Market

Expected Increase in Dealmaking and Partnerships

The fast-paced nature of the obesity-drug market necessitates strategic alliances and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to maximize growth and competitiveness. In order to expedite their entry into the market or strengthen their market position, pharmaceutical companies are expected to engage in increased dealmaking and partnerships. These collaborations allow companies to leverage each other’s strengths, pool resources, and accelerate the development and commercialization of obesity drugs.

Potential Targets: Viking Therapeutics and Zealand Pharma

Viking Therapeutics and Zealand Pharma are two potential targets for M&A and partnerships in the obesity-drug market. Both companies have garnered attention for their innovative research and development efforts focused on obesity treatments. Viking Therapeutics has made significant progress in the development of novel therapies targeting metabolic and endocrine disorders, including obesity. Zealand Pharma, on the other hand, specializes in peptide-based medicines and has a strong pipeline of drug candidates that hold promise for obesity management. Partnering with or acquiring companies like Viking Therapeutics and Zealand Pharma would offer established pharmaceutical companies access to cutting-edge research and development, enabling them to stay at the forefront of obesity-drug innovation.


Advancements in Pill Versions of GLP-1 Drugs

Making GLP-1 Drugs More Accessible for Patients

GLP-1 drugs have long been established as a valuable treatment option for obesity. However, their administration through injections poses a barrier to widespread adoption and patient compliance. To address this challenge, pharmaceutical companies are actively developing pill versions of GLP-1 drugs, aiming to make them more accessible for patients. Such advancements have the potential to increase patient adherence to treatment regimens, improve convenience, and expand the patient population eligible for GLP-1 therapy.

Setbacks in the Development of Oral Drugs

Despite the efforts to develop oral versions of GLP-1 drugs, there have been setbacks in their development. The complex nature of GLP-1 compounds and the challenges associated with their oral delivery have posed significant obstacles. A host of biological factors, including the stability and bioavailability of the drug, as well as its absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, must be addressed. However, despite these setbacks, research and development initiatives persist, driven by the potential benefits of oral GLP-1 drugs in managing obesity.

Preserving Muscle while Promoting Weight Loss

Challenges in Maintaining Muscle During Weight Loss

One of the significant challenges in weight loss interventions is the preservation of lean muscle mass while targeting excess body fat. Traditional weight loss methods often result in muscle loss alongside fat reduction, which can have detrimental effects on long-term metabolic health and physical function. Addressing this challenge has become a focal point in obesity-drug research, as preserving muscle mass is critical for maintaining overall health and achieving sustainable weight loss.

Drugs in Development Targeting Muscle Preservation

In response to the muscle preservation challenge, drugmakers are developing innovative therapies that specifically target the maintenance of lean muscle mass during weight loss. These drugs aim to modulate metabolic processes, minimize muscle wasting, and enhance muscle regeneration. By preserving muscle while promoting weight loss, these drugs offer a potential breakthrough in the field, enabling individuals to achieve their weight loss goals without compromising their overall physical health and well-being.

Improvements in Insurance Coverage for Obesity Drugs

Expected Improvement in Coverage

Historically, coverage for obesity drugs by health insurance providers has been limited, making these treatments inaccessible to many individuals. However, there are positive signs indicating that insurance coverage for obesity drugs is expected to improve in the near future. With the growing recognition of obesity as a chronic disease and the increasing demand for effective treatments, insurance companies are reassessing their coverage policies. As obesity drugs demonstrate their efficacy and value in improving patient outcomes, insurance coverage is likely to expand, boosting affordability and accessibility for those in need.

Mounting Evidence of Health Benefits

Mounting evidence surrounding the health benefits of obesity drugs is instrumental in influencing insurance coverage decisions. As clinical trials yield robust data demonstrating the positive impact of these drugs on weight loss, comorbidity management, and overall health outcomes, insurance providers are compelled to reconsider their coverage policies. The wealth of scientific evidence plays a crucial role in convincing insurance companies of the cost-effectiveness and long-term health benefits of obesity drugs, paving the way for improved coverage.

Potential Increase in Medicare Coverage

Medicare coverage, which primarily caters to the elderly population, has historically been limited in terms of covering obesity drugs. However, with the increasing prevalence of obesity among older adults and growing awareness of the associated health risks, there is a potential for an increase in Medicare coverage for obesity drugs. As pharmaceutical companies continue to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of their obesity drugs in clinical trials, Medicare may extend its coverage to ensure access to these vital medications for older individuals struggling with obesity.


The obesity-drug market presents immense opportunities for pharmaceutical companies, with projected growth, increasing competition, and advancements in drug development on the horizon. Continuous innovation, strategic partnerships, and improvements in insurance coverage are poised to reshape the landscape of obesity treatment, offering hope for individuals struggling with obesity. As the market landscape evolves, it is crucial for drugmakers to remain at the forefront of scientific advancements and regulatory developments, ensuring that they can effectively address the growing demands of this global public health crisis.

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