AT A GLANCE: Pharma industry shows role in obesity fight

What is the latest angle on the obesity story? Find out...

Target Obesity, a report out last week from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), says pharma companies are looking to bring more products through the pipeline to combat the condition.

Aren’t there just three such brands at present?
Spot on. Acomplia by Sanofi-Aventis, Roche’s Xenical, and Reductil, which is an  Abbott Laboratories product. Mann­ing Selvage & Lee has both the UK and global accounts for Acomplia. Head of healthcare there is Peter Carr. Xen­ical is handled by Hill & Knowlton, where Shipra Singh and Fiona Rollo are joint MDs of the healthcare and wellbeing division. And Ruder Finn has the Red­uctil brief, with the account managed by London head of health­care Claire Martin.

Are they promoted as anti-obesity drugs?
The ‘o’ word is rarely used in media and the professional relations. The drugs are promoted as part of an ongoing weight management campaign or for changing long-term eating behaviour. Sanofi Aventis’s line on Acomplia, for instance, is that it is aimed at patients with a body mass index above 27, and who probably have Type 2 diabetes. Pharma companies are careful to say that the products must be used in the context of an overall plan to change diet and exercise patterns.

What other products are on the horizon?
The ABPI reckons there are 38 anti-obesity drugs in various stages of development. Late last year, for example, Merck & Co in the US held talks with leading international agencies over a contract to handle PR for a ­pre-launch anti-obesity product (PRWeek, 29 Nov 2006).

So it is a hot pharma topic?
Yes, and a glance at the figures on obesity shows you why. A quarter of all women and 23 per cent of men in the UK are obese, with two-thirds of men and 58 per cent of women overweight.

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