Drug giants are trying to jump on the global rise of a silent killer dubbed ‘human foie gras’ that could make them billions.
The disease, formally known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), is caused by a build-up of fat in the liver due to expanding waistlines.
Pharmaceutical companies began ramping up their response to the preventable condition that is driven by bulging stomachs two years ago.
But figures last June suggested NASH is a potential goldmine that could be worth more than £17 billion ($22 billion) by 2026 if the obesity crisis continues.
Currently no approved treatments exist to stop those with fatty diets from falling victim, but a huge new market is tempting drug firms in.
With intense competition and pricing pressure eroding sales of medicines for many conditions, drug firms see NASH as an enormous new market.
Experts believe the market will grow by 45 per cent each year – mainly in the US, Europe and Japan – with the eventual rollout of drugs.