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Novo obesity drug seen with 43 percent chance of approval

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish group Novo Nordisk's diabetes drug Victoza has a 43 percent chance of being approved as an obesity treatment in the United States, according to a Reuters poll which found Danish bank analysts had the highest expectations.

Novo Nordisk, the world's biggest insulin producer, is in phase three of studies to use Victoza to treat obesity and expects the treatment to be launched in the United States late in of 2014 or early 2015.

Liraglutide, an active ingredient in Victoza, has shown it can be effective in helping obese people losing weight.

A survey of 10 analysts found an average forecast of a 43 percent chance of Victoza being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an obesity treatment, with analysts from international banks more skeptical than Danish peers.

Five analysts from international banks produced a 32 percent average forecast, compared with a forecast for 55 percent from five analysts from Danish banks.

United Nations data showed rates of obesity doubled in every region of the world between 1980 and 2008 with half a billion people - or 12 percent of the world's population - now considered obese.

The highest obesity levels are in the Americas, where 26 percent of adults are obese, the Geneva-based World Health Organisation's (WHO) annual report on global health showed, adding that one in 10 adults worldwide has diabetes.

Diabetes puts sufferers at risk of heart disease, kidney failure and blindness and can carry obesity as a side effect.

While the FDA has not approved any obesity drugs since 1999, Novo Nordisk rivals Vivus and Arena Pharmaceuticals have been given positive recommendations by a panel to the FDA on their obesity candidates.

The FDA is looking into cardiovascular safety in relation to obesity drugs which may cause weight loss, but at the cost of rising heart rate.

(Reporting by Shida Chayesteh; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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