Drug manufacturer Alkermes took olanzapine, the active ingredient in the leading antipsychotic Zyprexa, and combined it with an experimental mu-opioid antagonist called samidorphan. The result, at least according to a Phase 3 trial of 561 patients, is a drug that battles schizophrenia while counteracting the weight gain seen with olanzapine.
Alkermes’s CMO Craig Hopkinson said in a statement that “ALKS 3831 favorably shifted the weight gain distribution curve compared to olanzapine, both in terms of mean weight gain and patients experiencing extreme weight gain.”
Weight gain for ALKS 3831 patients in the Phase 3 trial was 4% compared to 6.5% for olanzapine patients after six months. Meanwhile, 30% of patients on olanzapine gained 10% of body weight in the trial; 18% of patients taking ALKS 3831 gained that much body weight.
As Stat reports this morning, those results may not be enough to convince health plans to cover ALKS 3831. Alkermes “could find it difficult convincing insurance companies to offer liberal reimbursement terms for a more expensive antipsychotic when the market is filled with cheaper, generic options, some of which don’t have weight gain as a side effect. It remains to be seen if Alkermes can make a convincing case that ‘weight gain, but less’ can be an effective marketing push for ALKS 3831,” Stat reports.