MariTide Weight Loss Drug – Is it Better than Ozempic and Wegovy?

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David Lee

Amgen has entered the race to develop a highly effective weight loss medication, aiming to distinguish itself among numerous pharmaceutical contenders.

The company is currently in the process of trialing a novel injectable solution, MariTide, which employs a distinctive mechanism to facilitate weight loss, setting it apart from current injectables by Novo Nordisk (Ozempic and Wegovy) and Eli Lilly (Mounjaro and Zepbound), along with other drugs under development.

A notable characteristic of MariTide is its potential to help maintain weight loss post-treatment – something that Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro have been criticised for failing to address. (read why Ozempic alternatives available over the counter are in high demand).

Amgen is innovating with dosing frequency, exploring a monthly or less frequent administration that could eclipse the convenience of weekly treatments currently available.

While the weight loss pharmaceutical arena has been predominantly led by Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, the long-term competitive edge of Amgen’s offerings remains to be seen.

Analysts, including those at Goldman Sachs, are forecasting a booming market, potentially valued at $100 billion by the decade’s end. This projection, coupled with an estimated 10 to 70 million Americans adopting weight loss medications by 2028, signals a substantial opportunity for new market entrants.

MariTide drug for weight loss

Preliminary data from Amgen’s clinical trials, although based on a small-scale study, show promise for MariTide. The biotech firm, based in Thousand Oaks, California, is also venturing into oral medications and other anti-obesity solutions, with details still under wraps.

Later this year, more insights are expected as Amgen plans to release initial findings from a mid-stage trial of MariTide and phase one results for its obesity pill.

Pricing strategies for Amgen’s treatments remain uncertain, especially in comparison to current options like Semaglutide (Wegovy and Ozempic) and Tirzepatide (Zepbound amd Mounjaro), which command about $1,000 a month and have stirred robust demand and investor attention despite their cost and limited insurance support.

Supply challenges faced by Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk present a potential opening for competitors to capture market share, a window Amgen could leverage with its innovative treatments.

MaraTide Vs Ozempic and Wegovy

Since its launch in December 2017, Ozempic has become one of the most popular weight loss injections in the world. Building on the success of the medication, which is primarily used for treating type 2 diabetes, its Danish manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, successfully brought a slightly stronger version to market called Wegovy.

Both these medications are so popular that Novo Nordisk often struggles to keep up with market demand. This is a situation that could be set to change rapidly.

The Canadian biopharmaceutical company Amgen is currently developing a new weight loss shot that appears to be more powerful than Ozempic, Wegovy, or any of the other injectible weight loss medications that have become so popular in recent years. It’s called MariTide and it has already helped the patients involved in early clinical trials to lose 14.5 percent of their body weight in just 12 weeks.

One of the most successful American pharmaceutical companies, Amgen presently has around 27 medications in its product line including Aranesp, a medication used to treat anemia associated with chronic kidney disease and chemotherapy-induced anemia, and Prolia, which is primarily used to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

The company has never ventured into the weight loss market before but, if early indications are anything to go by, MariTide looks set to make some very big waves.

Data from clinical trials shows Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar drugs typically help support weight reductions of 15 to 21 percent over a year. This does not compare well to the 14.5 percent reductions in weight MariTide has been shown to deliver in only three months.

Clinical evidence suggests the new weight loss drug may also be better able to support long-term weight loss. Some of the trial participants were able to sustain their weight losses for almost five months after their final MariTide treatment.

Around two-thirds of Ozempic patients regain all the weight they lost within a year of having their last injection.

Related: Amycretin – the new Ozempic Pill for Weight Loss

MariTide Could Prevent Weight Loss Rebound

Amgen speculates that taking MariTide at lower doses may reduce the risk of weight rebound.

The MariTide dosing schedule also works in its favor. Overweight people who use it will only need to have one injection per month. Ozempic and Wegovy patients need to have one injection per week.

The same is true for many of the other popular weight loss injections, such as Mounjaro, while certain alternatives, including Saxenda, require daily treatments.

In addition to potentially being more powerful and user-friendly, MariTide may also be cheaper to use. The list price for most existing weight loss shots exceeds $1000 per month, with Wegovy costing $1,349 for a 4-week supply.

Not surprisingly many medical insurance companies are loathe to cover the cost of using Wegovy and similarly expensive options. However, the high cost of using these options has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of buyers. If it had, Nova Nordisk would not find it so difficult to keep up with customer demand.

Related: Marketed under the brand name CagriSema, this medication combines cagrilintide, which acts on both amylin and calcitonin receptors, with semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist. Given as a weekly injection, CagriSema is being explored for its effectiveness in treating type 2 diabetes and obesity.

MaraTide FDA Approval for Weight Loss

Nevertheless, if MariTide gains FDA approval and does come in cheaper than the options that are presently available, Amgen could have a runaway success story on its hands.

This could be beneficial for consumers because it may force other manufacturers to significantly reduce the cost of their products.

Although it manipulates the same hunger hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), MariTide works in a slightly different way to Wegovy. Going a step further, it also blocks the activity of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP).

GLP-1 influences appetite by acting on specific receptors in the brain and also slows down gastric emptying. This prolongs the feeling of satiety that occurs after meals.

GIP is a hormone that is associated with fat storage. By influencing both GLP-1 and GIP, MariTide not only makes it easier to reduce daily calorie intake, it also offers potential protection from weight gain.

However, although Amgen’s new drug has already caused a lot of excitement, there are still no guarantees it will ever leave the exploratory stage, though early indications are certainly good.

The latest data comes from a small Phase 1 study involving 49 overweight subjects but a Phase 2 trial, with more participants, is already underway.

When data from the Phase 1 study was published in the journal Nature Metabolism (05 February 2024), the new drug’s abilities were not unanticipated. Amgen had already sparked an interest in it by sharing the results of earlier clinical trains at a conference that took place in 2022.

During the Phase 1 trial, the researchers administered doses ranging from 21 milligrams to 840 milligrams to the 49 participants. All the participants were obese but in otherwise good health.

Eight of the participants received the highest dosage. This resulted in a 14.5 percent weight loss over the 3 months of treatment.

Data from the study show that the weight loss continued even after participants were no longer taking the medication. They were able to maintain their maximum weight loss for approximately two months.

The study participants taking the highest dose of the new injectible weight loss drug also achieved a steady reduction in waist circumference.

Although their weight began to slowly increase after two months of stopping the treatment, after five months had passed, their body weight was still 11 percent lower than it was when they received the first injection.

If subsequent research continues to be so promising and warrants FDA approval, MariTide could become one of the most popular medications of the century. However, if that does happen, let’s hope Amgen manages to do a better job of keeping up with customer demand than Novo Nordisk is presently doing.

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About the author

David Lee is a leading obesity specialist based in Singapore. As a clinician-scientist with a National Hospital, David Lee advises patients with complex metabolic conditions and participates in clinical trials exploring new therapies. His research focuses on adipose tissue metabolism and how it impacts whole-body energy levels and disease risk. He continues to expand understanding of obesity and its link to diabetes through groundbreaking genetic and molecular studies published in top journals.