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Novo Nordisk says obesity drug trial confirms weight loss

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark's Novo Nordisk, the world's biggest insulin producer, said Phase III study results had shown people treated with its liraglutide drug had an 8 percent weight loss.

"These data, together with previously reported Phase III trials, consistently demonstrate clinically significant weight loss and improvements in obesity-related risk factors in people with obesity," chief science officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said in the statement.

Just how big the product could be is fiercely debated by analysts. Novo recently declined to reveal Novo's in-house forecasts but said the new product would cost around $20 a day, or more than $7,000 a year, so it would take fewer than 150,000 patients to make it a $1 billion-a-year product.

The injected drug, already on the market as a treatment for type-2 diabetes under the brand name Victoza, is in final-stage clinical testing.

The company is hoping the drug will offer a new driver to its business, after a refusal by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve diabetes drug Tresiba, demanding a major new study on cardiovascular risks.

In March, Novo reported that overweight and obese diabetes patients given high doses of liraglutide achieved 6 percent weight loss in a clinical trial, causing its shares to drop over 4 percent.

It said in a statement on Thursday that from a mean baseline weight of 106 kilograms, the average weight loss for people treated with liraglutide 3 mg was 8.0 percent compared with 2.6 percent for people treated with a placebo.

Novo Nordisk expects to complete the remaining Phase IIIa trial in the third quarter of this year, and to file the drug for regulatory review as a treatment for obesity in the United States and the EU around the turn of the year.

(Reporting by Mette Fraende; Editing by David Holmes)