Lilly expects strong profits in 2024 due to rising demand for weight-loss drugs

(Reuters) -Eli Lilly forecast on Tuesday that 2024 earnings will exceed Wall Street expectations on rising demand for its weight-loss drug, and said the treatment helped reduce symptoms of fatty liver disease in an interim study.

The company’s shares rose nearly 5% in premarket trading after rising about 11% in January. It is the eighth largest company in the US by market capitalization.

Exploding demand for the diabetes drug Mounjaro and the weight-loss treatment Zepbound prompted investors to buy Lilly’s shares last year, boosting the drugmaker’s market value to more than $600 billion and making it the world’s most valuable health care company.

Lilly said tirzepatide, the active ingredient in the drugs, also met the main objective of a study on a type of fatty liver disease called metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis.

The drug helped as many as 73.9% of patients achieve disease resolution without worsening liver scarring at 52 weeks, compared with 13% of patients who received placebo.

Lilly and its main rival in the obesity market, Novo Nordisk, are also testing their treatments for other health benefits, such as obstructive sleep apnea and chronic kidney disease, to ensure broader coverage for the drugs.

Lilly said it will expand production, but given strong demand and the time needed to fully bring capacity online, it expects demand for its diabetes and obesity drugs to exceed supply by 2024.

Lilly has invested in manufacturing facilities in the US and Europe to boost supply of tirzepatide, announcing in November it would build its first factory in Germany for 2.3 billion euros ($2.47 billion).

Lilly said it expects adjusted annual earnings of $12.20 to $12.70 per…

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