Viking Therapeutics weight-loss pill demonstrates potential in limited study, reports Reuters

Viking Therapeutics weight-loss pill demonstrates potential in limited study, reports Reuters

© Reuters.

By Manas Mishra and Sneha SK

(Reuters) -Viking Therapeutics’ experimental tablet reduced weight by up to 3.3% when tested on volunteers enrolled in a small preliminary trial, meeting Wall Street expectations and sending shares of the company by 15% in premarket trading Tuesday.

Popular market leaders Eli Lilly (NYSE:) and Novo Nordisk (NYSE:) are administered under the skin, with the companies also testing oral versions that they hope will give patients a more convenient option.

California-based Viking reported a 3.3% weight loss in seven people who received the highest 40-milligram dose of the drug, called VK2735, after adjusting for placebo levels, at 28 days. It helped patients lose weight by an average of 1.1% at a dose cut in half.

The Viking drug meets market expectations for weight loss given that Novo Nordisk’s amycretin pill showed about 4% effectiveness at the same time and higher doses, said partner David Song investment at the ETF operator Tema ETFs.

Viking said it plans to continue the trial to test higher doses of the drug in healthy or overweight volunteers, given that the side effects were mild to moderate in severity.

It also plans to launch an interim study in obese patients later this year.

The VK2735 data closely follows mid-stage results that showed an injectable version of the drug helped patients lose nearly 15% of their body weight on average.

In a conference call with analysts, the company said patients who have already achieved significant weight loss through an injection could switch to oral medications to help them maintain their weight.

On the other hand, “if someone didn’t want to start with injectable therapy, maybe they could start with oral therapy for a temporary period of time,” CEO Brian Lian said.

When they realize that an injected version “might generate better weight loss, that would likely reduce their resistance to transitioning to an injectable version,” he said.

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