Obesity has become one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35% of American adults are considered obese today, and rates of this disease among children are also increasing. VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS)‘ Qsymia, an obesity drug that became available to physicians last September, and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA)‘ Belviq, another FDA-approved drug for the treatment of obesity that should be launched in the coming weeks, are two new medications that can be prescribed in the fight against this disease. Both drugs are indicated for patients who are either obese, or overweight (i.e., BMI more than 27) and also suffer from hypertension, diabetes, or high levels of cholesterol in their bloodstream.
This may not be a surprise, since obesity is commonly associated with heart problems and cholesterol, but did you know that obesity can also lead to specific types of cancer? The World Cancer Research Fund states that overweight or obese patients can be at increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, kidney, and breast cancers. Whether obesity-fighting drugs will be able to play a direct role in mitigating this risk going forward is debatable, but preventing and treating this disease in the future is one component in the fight against cancer.
Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo, author of the book A World Without Cancer, discusses this topic with Motley Fool analyst Max Macaluso in the following video. A transcript is provided below the video.
Opportunities and risks in the obesity drug market
Biotech companies focusing on treatments for obesity may have massive opportunities, but they also face a number of risks. Can VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS) pick up its lagging sales and fend off the competition, or will Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ARNA) reign supreme in this space? If you’re in the dark, grab copies of The Motley Fool’s premium research reports on VIVUS and Arena Pharmaceuticals to stay up to date. Senior biotech analyst Brian Orelli gives investors the must-know information, including an in-depth look at the obesity market and reasons to buy and sell both stocks. Click now for an exclusive look at Arena and VIVUS — complete with a full year of free updates — today.
Max Macaluso: Let’s talk a little bit about obesity. I think a lot of people might not realize that obesity is linked to certain types of cancers.
Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo: Yes. Obesity is linked to quite a few cancers. Scientists have pointed to the fact that breast cancer and colon cancer are definitely linked to obesity, but there are many other cancers that are as well.
What do we want to do? How do we avoid this epidemic? Do you realize, in the past 30 years the rate of obesity among children has tripled, and it has doubled for adults? Everyone agrees we have an epidemic. What do we do about it?