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7 Stocks That Will Drive the Weight Loss Drugs Market

Bottle with weight loss pills, scales and measuring tape

The global obesity epidemic has reached unprecedented proportions, causing severe health consequences and placing an immense economic burden on healthcare systems.  Pharmaceutical companies are answering the urgent need for effective solutions with a new generation of weight loss drugs capable of achieving previously unattainable levels of weight reduction. Investors are taking note, driving a surge in interest and activity within the weight loss drug sector, a part of the larger pharmaceutical sector.

Can these new cutting-edge medications turn the tide against obesity, or will their risks and limitations leave investors holding the weight?

Breaking Down Obesity: The Complex Science Behind Weight Loss

Obesity is a complex disease rooted in the body's intricate hormonal and metabolic systems.  A dynamic network of hormones and neurotransmitters influences appetite, satiety (feeling full), fat storage and energy expenditure. When these delicate systems become imbalanced due to genetics, environmental factors, or other underlying medical conditions, weight gain and obesity can occur.

Traditionally, weight-loss approaches focused on calorie restriction and increased physical activity. However, these strategies often fail to offer sustainable solutions, as the body's powerful biological mechanisms fight to regain lost weight.  New weight loss drugs target the underlying hormonal and metabolic dysregulation, helping to curb hunger, increase metabolism, modify how the body processes fat and reduce the strong drive to overeat.

Titans of Transformation: Market Leaders in Weight Loss Drugs

The obesity drug market is witnessing a remarkable scientific breakthrough. Companies developing medications targeting the GLP-1 pathway (and beyond) to manipulate the body's hunger and satiety hormones are at the forefront of this revolution. 

Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) is renowned for its leading position in the diabetes treatment market. Novo Nordisk has become a heavyweight in weight loss treatment with semaglutide-based medications.  Their flagship drugs, Ozempic (for diabetes) and Wegovy (specifically for weight loss), are based on the GLP-1 receptor agonist mechanism.  GLP-1 is a hormone that naturally promotes satiety and regulates blood sugar levels. 

These medications mimic GLP-1's action, leading to reduced appetite, delayed stomach emptying (increasing fullness) and potentially improved insulin sensitivity, which can aid in weight loss.  Novo Nordisk's impressive clinical data, showcasing significant and sustained weight reduction, has propelled them to the forefront of the obesity drug market.

With an eye-watering 235% one-year increase in Novo Nordisk’s stock price, it's evident that investors are recognizing the transformative potential of their weight loss medications.

Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) has emerged as a fierce competitor with its breakthrough GLP-1 agonist, Mounjaro (tirzepatide).  The science behind Mounjaro goes even further by targeting not only GLP-1 receptors but also GIP receptors. GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) is another hormone involved in appetite and energy regulation. 

This combined approach may lead to even more pronounced weight loss results than semaglutide-based medications alone.  Lilly's success further solidifies the potential of targeting these pathways to treat obesity. Eli Lilly’s stock is up over 130% for the year because of its successful approach to weight loss. 

The Challengers: Innovation and Disruption on the Horizon

The fight against obesity is being waged on multiple fronts.  Beyond the currently dominant medications, researchers are exploring diverse strategies, including targeting multiple hormonal pathways and revolutionizing drug delivery with oral alternatives to injections.


Altimmune (NASDAQ: ALT) is taking on obesity with its drug pemvidutide, which also acts upon the GLP-1 pathway, similar to medications from Novo Nordisk and Lilly. The drug is currently progressing through clinical trials, seeking to establish its safety and efficacy profile in the weight loss drug landscape. Altimmune’s analyst community is predicting a near 90% upside for the stock, with Altimmune’s stock price already up nearly 80% on the year. 


Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) has an established presence in the healthcare market. Amgen is looking to gain a strong foothold in the obesity arena with AMG133.  Still in its development stages, this promising drug candidate stands out by targeting multiple hormonal pathways simultaneously. 

This multifaceted strategy aims to provide superior weight loss outcomes compared to existing medications by influencing a wider range of hunger and metabolic signals. Amgen's AMG133, having completed phase 1 trials in December 2022, is expected to receive an update soon. In the meantime, Amgen's stock has exhibited growth, experiencing a rise of close to 20% over the past year.

Viking Therapeutics

Viking Therapeutics (NASDAQ: VKTX) has garnered attention with positive results for its oral weight loss pill, VK2809.  This drug, also targeting the GLP-1 pathway, offers a potentially attractive alternative to the injectable medications currently dominating the market.  The convenience of an oral pill could increase treatment accessibility and adherence. Viking Therapeutic’s headlines recently reported that the VK2809 drug has presented strong clinical outcomes, causing Viking Therapeutic’s stock price to jump again. Due to a series of positive announcements made over the past three months, the stock price has experienced a remarkable surge of 300%. Furthermore, the stock's performance over the past year has been even more impressive, exhibiting an astounding 760% growth.

Beyond the Big Names: Deep Dive into Smaller Players

Currently, a handful of dominant players hold a major market share in the weight loss drug sector. However, smaller and more specialized companies are also emerging, offering innovative and niche solutions. Investing in these smaller players comes with higher risks but has the potential for higher rewards. Such investments are appropriate for investors with a high-risk tolerance, a long-term investment horizon, and the willingness to conduct thorough research before making investment decisions.

Madrigal Pharmaceuticals 

Madrigal Pharmaceuticals' (NASDAQ: MDGL) research focuses on liver diseases, yet their drug resmetirom shows promise in the weight loss arena.  Resmetirom is a thyroid hormone receptor agonist, which means it mimics thyroid hormone action.  Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in metabolism, and by boosting their action, resmetirom may increase fat burning and lead to weight reduction. 

While not explicitly marketed for weight loss, resmetirom's clinical results suggest potential benefits in this area. Madrigal Pharmaceutical’s stock price has been up 3% on the year but up 62% over the past six months.  Madrigal Pharmaceutical’s analyst community predicts that there is still over a 50% upside for this stock to grow and has rated the company as a “moderate buy.”

Rhythm Pharmaceuticals

Rhythm Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RYTM) takes a targeted approach to obesity, specializing in rare genetic disorders that cause severe obesity and insatiable hunger. Their medication, setmelanotide (Imcivree), acts on the MC4R pathway in the brain, a crucial pathway involved in regulating appetite and energy metabolism. 

Setmelanotide, specifically designed for those with certain genetic conditions impacting this pathway, restores the feeling of fullness and can lead to significant weight loss and improved quality of life in these individuals. Rhythm Pharmaceuticals' stock price has experienced an impressive increase of approximately 140% within the past year.

Investing in the Weight Loss: Weighing the Risks and Rewards

The rise of transformative weight loss drugs presents a compelling investment opportunity, yet potential investors must understand that the world of biotech investing, specifically the weight loss drug sector, carries inherent risks.  Clinical trial outcomes can make or break a company, causing volatility that sends a company’s stock price on a roller-coaster ride.  Safety concerns, even if they affect a small percentage of users, can severely dent investor confidence and public trust in a medication.

Furthermore, without widespread insurance coverage, even highly effective drugs may struggle to gain a strong foothold in the market due to the high out-of-pocket costs for patients. The long-term sustainability of weight loss achieved through medications remains under investigation, impacting potential revenue and profit trajectories.

Investors considering weight loss drug stocks should be comfortable with higher levels of risk and volatility.  A long-term perspective is crucial, recognizing that drug development is a lengthy and unpredictable process.  Additionally, a deep interest in understanding the innovative science behind these medications will inform better investing decisions.

The Future of Obesity Treatment: A Look Ahead

The obesity drug market is a space of rapid evolution and exciting potential. Advances in personalized medicine could revolutionize treatment, with researchers exploring how genetic analysis and a deeper understanding of individual metabolic profiles might help tailor medications to specific patients. This could maximize effectiveness and minimize frustrating trial-and-error approaches.  Simultaneously, scientists are investigating a wide range of novel biological targets with the potential to influence hunger, metabolism and weight. 

New drug combinations targeting multiple pathways at once may offer an even more powerful approach to managing obesity.  Finally, integrating weight loss medications with technology promises a more holistic, effective and sustainable approach to managing weight in the long term.

The latest wave of weight loss drugs marks a turning point in the fight against obesity.  For investors, it is an exciting but complex investment landscape.  Understanding the science behind these medications, the major players and their innovations, as well as the potential risks and rewards, is essential for informed decision-making when considering the weight loss drug stock sector.  As research progresses and new therapies emerge, we may finally witness the potential to transform the trajectory of the global obesity crisis.

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