New promising drug against obesity – bodyweight cuts up to 20%

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Semaglutide is clinically approved to be used for patients with type 2 diabetes, though is typically prescribed in much lower doses of 1mg. In the recent study the drug has been used in obesity treatment. The drug, semaglutide, works by hijacking the body’s own appetite regulating system in the brain leading to reduced hunger and calorie intake.

One third (35%) of people who took a new drug for treating obesity lost more than one-fifth (greater than or equal to 20%) of their total body weight, according to a major global study involving UCL researchers. Three quarters (75%) of people who received semaglutide 2.4mg lost more than 10% of their body weight and more than one-third lost more than 20%. No other drug has come close to producing this level of weight loss — this really is a gamechanger. For the first time, people can achieve through drugs what was only possible through weight-loss surgery.

The findings from the large-scale international trial may impact for improving the health of people with obesity and could play a major part in helping them to reduce the impact of diseases, such as COVID-19.

ORIGINAL ABSTRACT

Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity

BACKGROUND

Obesity is a global health challenge with few pharmacologic options. Whether adults with obesity can achieve weight loss with once-weekly semaglutide at a dose of 2.4 mg as an adjunct to lifestyle intervention has not been confirmed.

METHODS

In this double-blind trial, we enrolled 1961 adults with a body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of 30 or greater (≥27 in persons with ≥1 weight-related coexisting condition), who did not have diabetes, and randomly assigned them, in a 2:1 ratio, to 68 weeks of treatment with once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide (at a dose of 2.4 mg) or placebo, plus lifestyle intervention. The coprimary end points were the percentage change in body weight and weight reduction of at least 5%. The primary estimand (a precise description of the treatment effect reflecting the objective of the clinical trial) assessed effects regardless of treatment discontinuation or rescue interventions.
RESULTS

The mean change in body weight from baseline to week 68 was −14.9% in the semaglutide group as compared with −2.4% with placebo, for an estimated treatment difference of −12.4 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI], −13.4 to −11.5; P<0.001). More participants in the semaglutide group than in the placebo group achieved weight reductions of 5% or more (1047 participants [86.4%] vs. 182 [31.5%]), 10% or more (838 [69.1%] vs. 69 [12.0%]), and 15% or more (612 [50.5%] vs. 28 [4.9%]) at week 68 (P<0.001 for all three comparisons of odds). The change in body weight from baseline to week 68 was −15.3 kg in the semaglutide group as compared with −2.6 kg in the placebo group (estimated treatment difference, −12.7 kg; 95% CI, −13.7 to −11.7). Participants who received semaglutide had a greater improvement with respect to cardiometabolic risk factors and a greater increase in participant-reported physical functioning from baseline than those who received placebo. Nausea and diarrhea were the most common adverse events with semaglutide; they were typically transient and mild-to-moderate in severity and subsided with time. More participants in the semaglutide group than in the placebo group discontinued treatment owing to gastrointestinal events (59 [4.5%] vs. 5 [0.8%]).

CONCLUSIONS

In participants with overweight or obesity, 2.4 mg of semaglutide once weekly plus lifestyle intervention was associated with sustained, clinically relevant reduction in body weight.

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