(Bloomberg) -- Viking Therapeutics Inc. shares doubled after results from a mid-stage trial suggested the biotech company may field a viable competitor to weight-loss drugs from Eli Lilly & Co. and Novo Nordisk A/S.

Patients lost as much as 14.7% of their body weight after receiving weekly doses of the shot, called VK2735, for 13 weeks, San Diego-based Viking said Tuesday in a statement. The stock rose as much as 104% in New York, while Lilly, maker of the Zepbound weight-loss injection, fell 0.5% as of 11:32 a.m. Wegovy-maker Novo lost 1.2% in Copenhagen.

While Viking’s drug must still undergo late-stage testing, the results exceeded expectations, indicating it may end up being more effective than Zepbound, analysts from William Blair said in a note. That could make the company an attractive takeout target for drugmakers seeking to enter a market seen reaching as much as $100 billion a year by the end of the decade. 

The value of Viking’s drug will be “maximized in the hands of big pharma, which could best navigate the rebate/discount-driven reimbursement landscape,” the Blair analysts said. 

Viking is also developing an experimental pill, which may be attractive for some patients who are reluctant to take the available injected forms of the drug. 

The key ingredient in the Lilly and Novo drugs is a weight-loss compound called glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1. Like Lilly’s drug, Viking’s experimental medicine also includes a substance called glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide, or GIP. 

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:

Viking’s VK2735 could have best-in-class weight loss in obesity if it can replicate its robust phase 2 data in later-stage trials. Top-line data suggest better weight loss than marketed GLP-1s and Lilly’s triple agonist drug, retatrutide, while safety raised no red flags. The result sets the bar for Amgen’s rival GLP-1/GIP, due to report phase 2 data in 4Q.

— BI analyst Michael Shah.

The trial tested Viking’s treatment against a placebo in four doses ranging from 2.5 to 15 milligrams. The maximum difference in weight loss in comparison with a placebo was 13.1% at the highest dose. The drug was safe and well-tolerated, Viking said. 

--With assistance from Naomi Kresge.

(Updates with analyst comment in third and fourth paragraphs.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.