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

Researchers reported on Wednesday that for the first time a drug has been shown to be so effective against obesity that patients can bear many of its side effects.

Semaglutide, a drug manufactured by Novo Nordisk, is already marketed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. In a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago tested semaglutide as an anti-obesity drug at very high doses.

About 2,000 participants injected themselves weekly with semiglutide or a placebo for up to 68 weeks. Who got the medicine Lost about 15 percent of his body weightCompared to an average of 2.4 percent among those receiving placebo.

More than one-third of the participants who received the drug lost more than 20 percent of their weight. Diabetes and pre-diabetes symptoms improved in many patients.

Experts said those results exceeded the amount of weight loss in clinical trials of other obesity drugs. The drug is a “game-changer” by an obesity researcher at Northwestern University Finnberg School of Medicine, Dr. Robert F. Said Kushner, who led the study. “This is the beginning of a new era of effective treatment for obesity.”

Dr. of Maine Medical Center Research Institute. Clifford Rosen, who was not involved in the trial, said, “I think it has a huge potential for weight loss.” Gastrointestinal symptoms in participants were “truly marginal – nothing to do with weight loss drugs in the past”, Drs. Added Rosen, an editor and a co-author in the New England Journal of Medicine An editorial with study.

For decades, scientists have discovered ways to help a growing number of people struggling with obesity. The five currently available anti-obesity drugs have side effects that limit their use. The most effective, phentermine, reduces about 7.5 percent weight on average, and can only be taken for a short time. After stopping it, the amount of that weight is also regained.

By far the most effective treatment is bariatric surgery, which helps people lose 25 percent to 30 percent of their body weight, on average, Drs. Louise Aaron, an obesity researcher at Weil Cornell Medicine in New York, who advises Novo Nordisk and studies semaglutide.

But surgery is an aggressive solution that permanently changes the digestive system. Only 1 percent of those who qualify go through the process. Instead, most obese people try diet after diet with disappointing results; Many remain ashamed for their weight and lack of will power.

The semaglutide study confirms that scientists already know, Drs. Kushner said: Willpower is not enough. In the new trial, participants who received placebo and diet and exercise counseling were unable to see any significant difference in their weight.

Typically, insurance companies have refused to pay for weight loss drugs on the market. Semaglutide is likely to be expensive. Low doses used to treat diabetes have an average retail price of $ 1,000 per month. (Usually insurers pay for diabetes drugs, Dr. Kushner said.)

The director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center and a member of Novo Nordisk’s advisory board, Drs. Carolyn Epovian said the effectiveness of semaglutide was “unprecedented” and the test results may prompt insurers to cover it.

Semaglutide is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring hormone that acts on hunger centers in the brain and stomach, creating a feeling of satiety. Studying a high-dose diet of the drug for a long time is not enough to know if it has serious long-term consequences.

And it is expected that patients will have to take a lifetime to stop losing weight.

Qianna Mosely, who lives in Chicago, spent years trying to lose weight with diet and drugs, but to no avail. Ms. Moseley then appeared in a semaglutide test and weighed 40 pounds, about 15 percent of her weight.

Ms. Moseley did not know whether she was receiving medication or placebo recently. Even though she was trying to eat well and exercise, her weight was dropping very fast. “It was to be made.”

He did not experience any side effects. But when the trial was over and he no longer received the medicine, the weight began to return. “I was very sad,” she said. He is eager to resume taking the drug once it becomes available.

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