NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Fast-Track Obesity Drugs

January 6, 2004

Many pharmaceutical companies are developing new drugs to combat diseases that result when the body's metabolism malfunctions. Some are developing drugs for the common type II diabetes, while others are mapping out new drugs to fight obesity itself.

In June, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the fast-track approval process normally reserved for cancer treatments would also be applied to some obesity and diabetes drugs. This is because:

  • More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese and obesity has jumped 30 percent in the last 15 years.
  • Obesity can lead to type II diabetes, which accounts for 90 percent to 95 percent of all such patients.
  • The number of U.S. adults with diabetes has jumped 80 percent in the past 12 years, to 18 million; the average diabetic can account for about $13,243 a year in healthcare costs.
  • By 2007, worldwide demand for diabetes drugs will be $17 billion a year.

Given the FDA's changes, physicians believe the drug industry will soon deliver better treatments for metabolic disorders.

Source: "Big Pharma Looks Beyond Insulin: Researchers may be on the verge of major new treatments for diabetes and obesity," BusinessWeek, December 22, 2003.


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