Expanding weightloss drug doesn't wow

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Gelesis hopes its weight-loss pill could make headway in the obesity market, but the New York Times reports that the strategy—which is a pill that absorbs water to make users feel full—is not really an “Aha!” solution, although it does fill the middle ground between a procedure like bariatric surgery and a surgery in which a balloon is inserted and inflated to keep patients feeling full as well as the more-familiar appetite-suppressant approach. The balloon technique is not available in the US because of safety concerns with earlier versions.

Endocrinologist Daniel Bessesen was not wowed by the results, which showed patients lost 2% more weight than those on placebo. Bessesen told the Times that this sort of boost was “very modest” and does not make the pill “look like a game changer.”

Approvals for new medical interventions in the weight-loss space have been growing. Prescription pills by Arena and Vivus have been early entrants and Orexigen hopes its ingestible will soon gain regulatory approval.

Uptake of these products have been slow, despite an obese population that is growing in numbers and the risk for co-morbid conditions that come with being so overweight, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

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