‘A Game Changer’: Drug Brings Significant Weight Loss in Obese Patients

For the primary time, a drug has been proven so efficient in opposition to weight problems that sufferers might dodge lots of its worst penalties, together with diabetes, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The drug, semaglutide, made by Novo Nordisk, already is marketed as a therapy for Type 2 diabetes. In a scientific trial revealed within the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago examined semaglutide at a a lot greater dose as an anti-obesity medicine.

Nearly 2,000 individuals injected themselves weekly with semaglutide or a placebo for 68 weeks. Those who bought the drug misplaced shut to fifteen p.c of their physique weight, on common, in contrast with 2.4 p.c amongst these receiving the placebo.

More than a 3rd of the individuals receiving the drug misplaced greater than 20 p.c of their weight. Symptoms of diabetes and pre-diabetes improved in lots of sufferers.

Those outcomes far exceed the quantity of weight reduction noticed in scientific trials of different weight problems drugs, consultants mentioned. The drug is a “game-changer,” mentioned Dr. Robert F. Kushner, an weight problems researcher at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who led the research. “This is the beginning of a brand new period of efficient remedies for weight problems.”

Dr. Clifford Rosen of Maine Medical Center Research Institute, who was not concerned within the trial, mentioned, “I believe it has an enormous potential for weight reduction.” Gastrointestinal signs among the many individuals have been “actually marginal — nothing like with weight reduction medication prior to now,” added Dr. Rosen, an editor on the New England Journal of Medicine and a co-author of an editorial accompanying the research.

For many years, scientists have searched for methods to assist rising numbers of individuals scuffling with weight problems. Five presently obtainable anti-obesity medication have unwanted side effects that restrict their use. The only, phentermine, brings a couple of 7.5 p.c weight reduction, on common, and will be taken just for a short while. After it’s stopped, even that quantity of weight is regained.

The only therapy to this point is bariatric surgical procedure, which helps individuals lose 25 p.c to 30 p.c of physique weight, on common, famous Dr. Louis Aronne, an weight problems researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York who advises Novo Nordisk and research semaglutide.

But surgical procedure is an invasive resolution that completely alters the digestive system. Only 1 p.c of those that qualify undergo with the process. Instead, most overweight individuals strive weight-reduction plan after weight-reduction plan with disappointing outcomes; many stay ashamed of their weight and fault themselves for an absence of willpower.

The semaglutide research confirms what scientists already know, Dr. Kushner mentioned: Willpower will not be sufficient. In the brand new trial, individuals who obtained the placebo and weight-reduction plan and train counseling have been unable to see any important distinction of their weight.

Generally, insurers have refused to pay for the weight-loss medication in the marketplace. Semaglutide is more likely to be costly. The decrease dose used to deal with diabetes carries a median retail value of practically $1,000 a month. (Insurers often pay for diabetes medication, Dr. Kushner famous.)

Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center and a member of Novo Nordisk’s advisory board, mentioned the effectiveness of semaglutide was “phenomenal” and that the trial outcomes might lead insurers to cowl it.

Semaglutide is an artificial model of a naturally occurring hormone that acts on urge for food facilities within the mind and within the intestine, producing emotions of satiety. A high-dose routine of the drug has not been studied lengthy sufficient to know if it has severe long-term penalties.

And it’s anticipated that sufferers must take it for a lifetime to forestall the burden loss from coming again.

Qiana Mosely, who lives in Chicago, spent years making an attempt to drop pounds with diets and medicines, however to no avail. Then Ms. Mosely joined the semaglutide trial and misplaced 40 kilos, about 15 p.c of her weight.

Ms. Mosely didn’t know till not too long ago whether or not she was getting the drug or the placebo. Even although she was making an attempt to eat nicely and train, her weight “was dropping too quick,” she mentioned. “It needed to be the meds.”

She skilled no unwanted side effects, she mentioned. But when the trial ended and she or he now not obtained the drug, the burden began coming again. “I used to be so unhappy,” she mentioned. She is keen to renew taking the drug as soon as it’s obtainable.

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