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News of Weight Loss Pill Propels Viking Higher

Viking Therapeutics (NASDAQ:VKTX) shares jumped in the first hour Tuesday after the company said its experimental weight loss pill showed positive results in a small study and will enter the next stage of development later this year.

The study results add to the excitement around the drugmaker’s prospects in the budding weight loss drug market.

Viking is one of several small biotech companies hoping to compete with Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) in the space, which analysts say could grow into a $100 billion market by the end of the decade. Some analysts view Viking as a particularly strong potential player, or takeover target for a larger company.

Based on Tuesday’s results, Viking plans to start a phase two trial on its weight loss pill later this year. The once-a-day tablet is an oral version of the company’s experimental weight loss injection, which showed encouraging results in a mid-stage trial last month.

The phase one trial for the pill followed more than 40 patients with obesity for around a month. Those people took different dose sizes of the drug or received a placebo.

Viking said patients who received the pill once a day lost up to 5.3% of their weight on average, or up to 3.3% more than those who took a placebo, at 28 days.

VKTX shares zoomed $16.96, or 24.5%, to $86.15.