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Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy Shows Lasting Weight Loss After Four Years

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Patients using Novo Nordisk‘s Wegovy obesity treatment have sustained an average of 10% weight loss over a four-year period, presenting a compelling case for insurers and governments to consider covering the medication’s cost.

Highlighted during the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, Novo Nordisk unveiled the long-term data, underscoring the drug’s efficacy. Martin Holst Lange, Novo’s development head, emphasized the significance of this extended analysis, comparing it to the company’s diabetes drug, Ozempic, both containing the active ingredient semaglutide.

With Wegovy’s price ranging from $200 to nearly $2,000 per month, its status as the pioneering treatment from the latest class of drugs—GLP-1 agonists—originally designed for diabetes, may prompt enhanced reimbursement considerations. Eli Lilly, Novo’s competitor, also rolled out a similar drug named Zepbound in the US in December, yet both companies have grappled with meeting the demand.

Dr. Simon Cork, a Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, weighed in on Britain’s public health service’s cautious stance on covering Wegovy, citing concerns over its long-term effectiveness. However, the latest data showcasing sustained benefits over four years could challenge this standpoint, potentially influencing coverage decisions.

During the trial dubbed Select, comprising 17,604 patients, Wegovy users achieved an average 10% weight loss after 65 weeks on the medication. This level of weight loss remained consistent over the four-year duration, reaching 10.2% by the study’s conclusion. Nausea emerged as the primary side effect leading to a 17% dropout rate among participants.

Importantly, the cardiovascular advantages of Wegovy were evident across participants in the trial, regardless of their initial weight or the extent of weight loss during treatment, as revealed in Novo’s additional analysis released alongside the trial results.

The Select study disclosed a 20% reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as strokes, for overweight or obese individuals with a history of heart disease. Novo remains focused on unraveling the underlying mechanisms of semaglutide’s cardiovascular protection.

Further exploration into Wegovy and Zepbound is underway to gauge their efficacy in addressing diverse medical conditions beyond weight loss, including heart attack risk mitigation, sleep apnea, and kidney disease. The sustained weight loss observed in the heart trial, though lower than previous obesity studies, underscores the enduring impact of these medications.

Rachel Adams

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