Diabetes approval fires the gun on Lilly blockbuster

Tirzepatide was always going to be 2022’s big approval, and a green light late Friday in the US fires the starting gun on a franchise that comes with huge expectations. Six doses of Mounjaro, as the drug has been trademarked, were approved to treat type 2 diabetes; Lilly is keeping the price under wraps for now. The lack of this crucial piece of information has not held the sellside back, with sales forecasts jumping higher in the wake of impressive obesity data. Analysts at Berenberg are among the most bullish, with a peak sales estimate in obesity alone of $13bn; the more cautious sit at around $4bn at peak. Diabetes is seen as the larger opportunity, and here the numbers get very big indeed – Mizuho for example has pencilled in $10bn in this setting by 2030. The optimists have peak sales across all settings sitting up towards the $20bn mark which, if they turn out to be accurate, will make Mounjaro one of the most commercially successful diabetes drugs. It’s now down to Lilly to deliver, although the group’s fierce competitors in this space, Novo Nordisk for one, will not be sitting still in the meantime.

Mounjaro's challenge: selected top-selling type 2 diabetes drugs
Drug Sales ($bn) Detail 
Ozempic (GLP-1, Novo) 10.3 Peak predicted in 2031
Trulicity (GLP-1, Lilly) 7.4 Peak predicted in 2023 
Lantus (insulin, Sanofi) 6.7 Peaked in 2014
Rybelsus (oral GLP-1, Novo) 6.5 Peak predicted in 2031
Januvia/Janumet (DPP4, Merck) 6.1 Peaked in 2016
Jardiance (SGLT2, Boehringer) 6.0 Peak predicted in 2027
Actos (PPAr, Takeda) 4.5 Peaked in 2010
Victoza (GLP-1, Novo) 3.9 Peaked in 2018
Farxiga (SGLT2, Astrazeneca) 3.4 Consensus predicts 2024 peak
Note: type 2 diabetes sales only. Source: Evaluate Pharma. 

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