AstraZeneca paying up to $2 billion for experimental obesity pill – as weight loss drug market grows



The drug is similar to Ozempic, which is commonly used for diabetes and weight loss.

AFP via Getty Images

Key Takeaways
  • AstraZeneca said Thursday it had reached an exclusive license agreement with Eccogene—a China-based biopharmaceutical company—for the drug ECC5004, a GLP-1 receptor agonist that could treat obesity, type 2 diabetes and potentially other diseases.
  • Eccogene will receive an upfront payment of $185 million in addition to $1.82 billion in future “clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones and tiered royalties,” AstraZeneca said.
  • AstraZeneca is granted “exclusive global rights” to the development and commercialization of ECC5004, which is in early, phase one trials, the company said.
  • Preliminary results from phase one trials have shown a “differentiating clinical profile” for the drug, AstraZeneca noted, with “good tolerability and encouraging glucose and body weight reduction” when compared to a placebo.
  • The drug would be taken once a day as a pill, either on its own or in combination with other medicines for the treatment of cardiometabolic diseases, like heart attacks or strokes.
  • AstraZeneca said it hopes to enter phase two clinical trials for the drug by the end of next year.

AstraZeneca reported $33.7 billion in total revenue through the third quarter and raised its guidance for total revenue this year from a low-to-mid single-digit percentage increase to a mid-single-digit percentage increase. The company also reported a 15% increase in total revenue and product sales for all medicines excluding Covid-19 treatment. Chief executive Pascal Soriot, who cited “momentum” for the company, applauded the acquisition of ECC5004 as an “acceleration of our cardiometabolic and obesity pipeline.”

Key Background

ECC5004 is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, similar to Ozempic, Wegovy or Mounjaro. Novo Nordisk has reported recent success following the releases of Wegovy and Ozempic, after they gained widespread popularity earlier this year for their effectiveness in aiding weight loss. Both drugs accounted for 52% of Novo Nordisk’s $23.6 billion of total revenue through the first nine months this year.

This article was first published on and all figures are in USD.

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