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Roche joins obesity industry with Carmot purchase but medications may not be accessible until 2030

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Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche is set to acquire Carmot Therapeutics, a developer of anti-obesity drugs, as it aims to challenge Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly’s dominance in the global weight loss drugs market. The deal involves $2.7 billion in cash for Carmot’s equity holders at the close of the transaction, with the potential for an additional $400 million based on reaching certain milestones.

Roche hopes Carmot’s early-stage technology will contribute to developing oral obesity treatments, though these drugs may not be widely available until 2030 or later. The acquisition provides Roche access to Carmot’s research and development portfolio, including clinical and preclinical assets. Carmot’s most promising drug candidate, CT-388, is a once-weekly injection belonging to the dual GLP-1/GIP receptor agonists class, similar to Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro.

The drug, after encouraging Phase 1 trial results, is set for the second of three trial stages. Another oral candidate, CT-996, undergoing Phase 1 trials, could differentiate Roche in the crowded obesity drugs market. The global obesity market is estimated to be worth $200 billion within the next decade, attracting new entrants while established players Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly face challenges in meeting rising demand. Roche, having worked on GLP-1 treatments more than a decade ago, sees this as a great time to reenter the market with its expertise and diverse pipeline.

Analysts, however, caution about the efficacy of oral obesity treatments, with Pfizer recently abandoning plans for a twice-weekly pill due to side effects. As obesity pill trials increase, companies seek ways to improve patient accessibility in this growing market.

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