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Amgen Enters Weight-Loss Market

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) shares began a shortened week ahead of the weekend, on word the company is taking a new approach as it tries to stand out in a crowded field of drugmakers racing to develop the next blockbuster weight loss drug.

The biotech company is testing an injectable treatment that helps people lose weight differently from the existing injections from Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY), and other obesity medicines in development. Amgen’s treatment, called MariTide, also appears to help patients keep weight off after they stop taking it.

The drugmaker is also testing its drug to be taken once a month or even less frequently, which could offer more convenience than the weekly medicines on the market.

It’s too early to say how competitive Amgen will be in the budding weight loss drug space, which Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have so far dominated.

Some analysts expect the market could be worth $100 billion by the end of the decade, potentially leaving room for new competitors to enter. Goldman Sachs also projects that between 10 million and 70 million Americans will be taking weight loss drugs by 2028.

The available data on Amgen’s injectable drug is promising, but it’s from a small, early-stage clinical trial. The Thousand Oaks, California-based company also is developing an oral medicine and other treatments for obesity, but has disclosed few details about them.

AMGN shares started Monday up 94 cents to $277.11