‘A Game Changer’: Drug Brings Weight Loss in Patients With Obesity

For the primary time, a drug has been proven so efficient in opposition to weight problems that sufferers could 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 remedy for Type 2 diabetes. In a scientific trial printed within the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago examined semaglutide at a a lot larger dose as an anti-obesity remedy.

Nearly 2,000 contributors, at 129 facilities in 16 nations, injected themselves weekly with semaglutide or a placebo for 68 weeks. Those who acquired 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 contributors 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 examine. “This is the beginning of a brand new period of efficient therapies 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 contributors have been “actually marginal — nothing like with weight reduction medicine prior to now,” added Dr. Rosen, an editor on the New England Journal of Medicine and a co-author of an editorial accompanying the examine.

For many years, scientists have searched for tactics to assist rising numbers of individuals combating weight problems. Five presently out there anti-obesity medicine have uncomfortable side effects that restrict their use. The only, phentermine, brings a few 7.5 p.c weight reduction, on common, and might be taken just for a short while. After it’s stopped, even that quantity of weight is regained.

The only remedy thus far 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 attempt weight-reduction plan after weight-reduction plan with disappointing outcomes.

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

Generally, insurers have refused to pay for the weight-loss medicine available on the market. Semaglutide is more likely to be costly. The decrease dose used to deal with diabetes carries a median retail value of almost $1,000 a month. (Insurers normally pay for diabetes medicine, Dr. Kushner famous.)

Dr. Caroline Apovian, co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a member of Novo Nordisk’s advisory board, mentioned the effectiveness of semaglutide was “phenomenal” and that the trial outcomes could 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 critical long-term penalties.

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

Qiana Mosely, who lives in Chicago, spent years attempting 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 attempting to eat effectively and train, her weight “was dropping too quick,” she mentioned. “It needed to be the meds.”

She skilled no uncomfortable side effects, she mentioned. But when the trial ended and he or she not obtained the drug, the load began coming again. “I used to be so unhappy,” she mentioned. She is raring to renew taking the drug as soon as it’s out there.

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