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Lilly expects strong 2024 profit on rising demand for weight-loss drug

In Business
February 06, 2024

(Reuters) -Eli Lilly forecast 2024 profit above Wall Street estimates on Tuesday on soaring demand for its weight-loss drug, and said the treatment helped reduce symptoms of a fatty liver disease in a mid-stage trial.

Explosive demand for diabetes drug Mounjaro and weight-loss treatment Zepbound led investors to buy up Lilly’s stock last year, propelling the drugmaker to a market capitalization of more than $600 billion and making it the world’s most valuable healthcare company.

Lilly said tirzepatide, the active ingredient in both the drugs, met the main goal in a study for a type of fatty liver disease, with 74% of patients achieving an absence of metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH) with no worsening of liver scarring, compared to 13% of patients on placebo.

Shares were up nearly 5% in premarket trading after gaining about 11% in January. It is the 8th largest company in the U.S. by market capitalization.

Lilly said it will continue to expand manufacturing expansion. But given strong demand and the time required to bring manufacturing capacity fully online, Lilly expects that demand for its diabetes and obesity drugs is likely to outpace supply in 2024.

Zepbound and Mounjaro belong to a class of treatments called GLP-1s, which were first developed to treat type 2 diabetes, and have been shown to help patients lose 15%-20% of their weight by reducing food cravings and causing the stomach to empty more slowly.

The company expects adjusted annual earnings of $12.20 to $12.70 per share. Analysts had forecast a profit of $12.43 per share, according to LSEG data.

Quarterly sales of the diabetes drug Mounjaro rose to $2.21 billion from $279.2 million last year.

Zepbound brought in $175.8 million in its first few weeks of 2023 sales, Lilly said. The drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late November and became available for purchase in early December.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija and Leroy Leo in Bengaluru and Patrick Wingrove in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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