The US Food and Drug Administration approved the obesity drug that helped people lose weight by 15 percent

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the obesity drug that helped people lose weight by 15 percent

Regulators said Friday that a new version of a popular diabetes drug could be sold as a weight-loss drug in the United States

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Wegovy, a higher-dose version of the diabetes drug Novo Nordisk semaglutide, for long-term weight control.

In company-funded studies, participants who took Wegovy had an average weight loss of 15%, about 34 pounds (15.3 kg). Participants lost weight steadily for 14 months before reaching a plateau. In the comparison group that got dummy injections, the average weight loss was about 2.5%, or just under 6 pounds.

“With current medications, you probably gain 5% to 10% of the weight, and sometimes you don’t,” said Dr. Harold Bayes, MD, medical director of the Louisville Center for Metabolism and Atherosclerosis Research. Bayes, who is also the chief science officer for the Society of Obesity Medicine, helped conduct studies on the drug.

In the United States, more than 100 million adults – about 1 in 3 – are obese.

Baez said that losing even 5% of his weight can bring health benefits, such as improved energy, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, but that amount often isn’t satisfying for patients who focus on losing weight.

Bayes said that Wegove appears to be safer than previous obesity drugs that have been “blazing” due to safety issues. The most common side effects of Wegovy were gastrointestinal problems, including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. These usually calmed down, but prompted about 5% of study participants to stop taking it.

The drug carries a potential risk of developing a type of thyroid tumor, so it should not be taken by people with a personal or family history of certain thyroid and endocrine tumors. Wegovy also has a risk of developing depression and pancreatitis.

Wegovy (pronounced we-GOH’-vee) is a synthesized version of an appetite-reducing gut hormone. Patients inject it weekly under the skin. Like other weight loss medications, it should be used in conjunction with exercise, a healthy diet, and other steps such as keeping a food diary.

The Danish company did not disclose the price of Wegovy but said it would be similar to Saxenda, a daily injected weight loss drug that now costs more than $1,300 a month without insurance.

Archana Sadhu, chief of the diabetes program at Houston Methodist Hospital, said Wegovy’s benefit “all depends on the price.” She noted that at one point patients’ health insurance plans did not cover weight-loss therapies, making expensive drugs out of reach.

Sadhu, who is unrelated to Novo Nordisk, plans to refer obese patients with type 2 diabetes to Wegovy. It makes patients feel fuller faster and increases insulin secretion from the pancreas to control blood sugar, she said. She added that patients would then be more motivated to exercise and eat healthy food.

Wegovy is building on a trend in which makers of relatively new diabetes drugs are testing them to treat other conditions common in diabetics. For example, Novo Nordisk’s popular diabetes drugs Jardiance and Victoza have now received approvals to lower the risks of heart attack, stroke and death in heart patients.

Philander Pannell, 49, of Largo, Maryland, joined the patient study after cycles of losing and then regaining weight. She said she took Wegovy, worked out a few times a week and lost 65 pounds over the course of 16 months.

“It helped curb my appetite and helped me feel full faster,” Bannell said. “He got me on the right path.”

Soon after the study ended and she stopped taking Wegovy, she regained about half of her weight. Since then I’ve lost a lot of that, started exercise classes and bought home exercise equipment. She is considering returning to Wegovy after agreeing to it.

Novo Nordisk is also developing a version of the pill.


The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

2022-06-07 13:01:34

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