Novo Nordisk joins with Noom to assist with its push into obesity
Denmark’s Novo Nordisk has teamed up with US digital health company Noom on a project that will develop programmes to help people with obesity achieve and maintain weight loss.
Noom has developed a weight-loss app and a personalised meal-planning service that it says is already used by more than 45 million people worldwide and helps overweight people make behavioural changes that can help the slim down.
The programme draws on “artificial intelligence, behavioural coaching by over 1,000 personal health coaches, data and wellness insights, to guide people towards sustainable change,” says Novo Nordisk.
The Danish drugmaker has already completed an eight-month pilot that put Noom’s programmes through their paces alongside its “more than 95 years of experience in helping people living with chronic diseases”.
Novo Nordisk is already making headway in the obesity therapy market with injectable GLP-1 agonist Saxenda (liraglutide), which made $390m in sales in the first half of the year, up more than 60% on the same period of 2018.
Saxenda is now launched in more than 40 countries worldwide and has been viewed as something of a breakthrough product in obesity, a category which has proved a challenge to drug developers.
There is a handful of approved drug therapies – including GlaxoSmithKline’s/Roche’s lipase inhibitor, Xenical (orlistat), Eisai’s Belviq (lorcaserin) and Vivus Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate) – but none have been a major commercial success thanks to a lack of efficacy or tolerability issues.
Saxenda’s sales performance is impressive given it is injected daily, and Novo Nordisk thinks it has a big opportunity to build the franchise if it can win approval for its once-weekly injectable and once-daily oral formulations of follow-up GLP-1 agonist semaglutide.
The weekly injectable has been approved for type 2 diabetes as Ozempic since 2017, and the oral formulation just got a green light from the FDA – its first world market – also in diabetes.
Simply making drugs available to treat obesity – even if they are effective and well-tolerated – isn’t enough to ensure success. It is estimated that only 7% of obese patients visit their doctor for help and only 2% receive treatment.
Bundling therapy with behavioural platforms like Noom could be one way to improve obesity treatment, and help people keep the weight off.
“We believe that the combination of Noom’s services, with Novo Nordisk’s offerings to support people with obesity, will help educate and empower people with obesity to lose weight, keep it off – and live healthy lives,” said Camilla Sylvest, the drugmaker’s head of commercial strategy.