Semaglutid, a Novo Nordisk The drug currently approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes appears to help obese patients lose an average of 15% of their body weight when combined with diet and lifestyle changes. This is evident from study results published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), some experts say the study contained notable limitations.
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For the experiment, researchers at Northwestern University 1,961 enrolled adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 30 or a BMI of at least 27 with at least one co-existing disease related to their weight that was not type 2 diabetes. The study took place in 129 centers in 16 countries and included participants who self-injected either semaglutide or a placebo once a week for 68 weeks. The study was blinded so that participants did not know whether they were self-administering semaglutide or a placebo. During the study period, the participants also received “individual counseling sessions [four] Weeks to help them stick to a reduced calorie diet … and increase physical activity, ”the researchers wrote.
The researchers found that participants who were self-injected with semaglutide lost almost 15% of their body weight on average, compared with an average loss of 2.4% for participants in the placebo group. Over a third of study participants who received semaglutide lost more than 20% of their body weight, the researchers found, and symptoms of diabetes and pre-diabetes improved in a number of patients.
Just under three-quarters of the participants who received semaglutide reported gastrointestinal side effects – most commonly nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation – compared to just under half of the participants in the placebo group. In addition, 2.6% of patients who received semaglutide reported gallbladder-related disorders, compared with 1.2% in the placebo group.
“A Game Changer” for Weight Loss
Robert Kushner, an obesity researcher Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and one head of the study said the results suggest semaglutide “may mark the beginning of a new era of effective treatments for obesity.”
“I was surprised and pleased to see the unprecedented results from the drugs,” said Kushner. “The fact that 50% of the participants were able to lose at least 15% of their original body weight and a third at least 20% of their body weight is a cornerstone.”
Kushner said the next step in evaluating the drug as a weight loss tool is in practical use. “We now need to examine how health care providers can be encouraged and trained to treat obesity in primary care.”
Clifford roses out Maine Medical Center Research Institute, The editor at NEJM believes semaglutide “has great potential for weight loss,” adding that the gastrointestinal side effects reported in the study were “really marginal – unlike past weight loss drugs”.
Stephen O’Rahilly of the Cambridge University The results of the study mark “the beginning of a new era for the development of anti-obesity drugs with a future focus on achieving weight loss comparable to semaglutide while having fewer side effects.”
O’Rahilly specifically noted the lack of reported psychiatric side effects in the study. “Unlike some previous appetite suppressants which caused significant psychological and psychiatric side effects, there is no evidence that semaglutide has any adverse effects of this type,” said O’Rahilly.
Some experts express caution
However, the experiment was not without its limitations, noted some experts.
Rosen and Julie Ingelfinger Harvard Medical SchoolThe assistant editor at NEJM wrote in an editorial accompanying the study: “Despite the positive results of this study, the present study has some important limitations.” For example, they cited concerns about “adverse events (mostly gastrointestinal nausea, sometimes vomiting and diarrhea) mainly related to the class of drug”.
Separately from Baptiste Leurent London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine noted that semaglutide “is indeed likely to play a crucial role in the fight against obesity,” but added that if the drug is approved, providers must closely monitor patients for gastrointestinal disorders.
“We also need to better understand what happens when treatment is stopped and whether it can be used for a shorter period,” added Leurent.
Semaglutide is also likely to have a high list price, reports the New York Times, and generally insurers don’t cover weight loss medications.
The currently approved dosage of semaglutide for treating diabetes – which is much lower than the dosage used in the weight loss study – costs an average of $ 1,000 per month, according to the Times, which could add up, especially if patients had to take the drug for the rest of theirs Life to maintain their weight loss (Kolata, New York Times, 2/10; Busko, Medscape, 2/10; Monaco, MedPage Today, 2/10; Wilding, New England Journal of Medicine, 2/10).