The Korea Herald


Daewoong aims to reshape obesity market with patch-type treatment

Korean pharma plans to debut new microneedle-based treamtent by 2028

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Nov. 6, 2023 - 16:21

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A Daewoong Pharmaceutical researcher shows the company's microneedle platform through a microscope. (Daewoong Pharmaceutical) A Daewoong Pharmaceutical researcher shows the company's microneedle platform through a microscope. (Daewoong Pharmaceutical)

Daewoong Pharmaceutical said Monday the company will develop a microneedle-based obesity treatment drug.

The South Korean pharmaceutical company aims to start a phase 1 clinical trial next year and launch the treatment in 2028.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s new obesity treatment will contain a synthetic peptide semaglutide, which is similar to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone produced in the gut released in response to food to reduce appetite and the release of insulin.

The patch-type obesity treatment, measuring 1 square centimeter, will use drug-loaded dissolvable microneedles to penetrate the outer layer of the skin to deliver drug ingredients to the patient’s body. The company said patients will be able to easily administer the treatment and minimize injections-associated fears involving existing injection-type GLP-1 agonists.

“The patch-type obesity treatment will increase overall medication adherence of patients with obesity who have to take the treatment on a regular basis,” an official from Daewoong Pharmaceutical said. Daewoong Pharmaceutical said patients will need to use its patch-type obesity treatment just once a week.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical added the new treatment also aims to eliminate common side effects like skin swelling or lumps to improve the treatment experience.

For the development of the patch-type obesity treatment, Daewoong Pharmaceutical will also apply its own microneedle platform technology known as closed-packed aero-pressured microneedle (CLOPAM).

“While microneedles have been widely used in cosmetics, their application in medicine has been limited due to issues involving drug capacity and transdermal absorption. Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s CLOPAM technology is designed to ensure efficient drug delivery and minimize drug loss,” the official said.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical's microneedle platform technology will allow patients to store and use the treatment at room temperature, the official added.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical's microneedle platform has been developed by its research and development unit Daewoong Therapeutics. Daewoong Pharmaceutical has filed 23 patents in South Korea and registered six international patents for the microneedle technology. The company said it has received a proposal from a global pharmaceutical firm to develop other microneedle-based medications.

With the development of patch-type obesity treatment, Daewoong aims to enter the rapidly growing global obesity treatment market, it said. The global market for obesity treatments is expected to grow to 104 trillion won ($80 billion) by 2030, the firm said, quoting data from Morgan Stanley.

"Daewoong Pharmaceutical will push ahead with the development of the new patch-type obesity treatment for patients with unmet medical needs," Daewoong Pharmaceutical CEO Jeon Seng-ho said.

Meanwhile, Daewoong Pharmaceutical is also conducting studies to develop its new diabetes drug Envlo as a potential treatment for obesity.