Wegovy Patients Maintain Weight Loss for 4 Years: Novo Nordisk Study

Boxes of Wegovy manufactured by Novo Nordisk in a pharmacy in London, Britain, on March 8, 2024.

Hollie Adams | Reuters

Patients taking NordiskThe anti-obesity drug Wegovy sustained an average 10% weight loss for up to four years, according to a new analysis published Tuesday of the longest clinical trial of the treatment to date.

The widely popular drug also reduced the risk of heart disease regardless of a patient's weight, a second analysis of the same trial found. Both analyzes were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice this week.

The findings shed light on the long-term effects of Wegovy and add to growing evidence of the broad health benefits of the weekly injection. This could boost Novo Nordisk's case for insurers and governments to cover the expensive but effective drug.

Insurance coverage is limited for Wegovy, which is part of a class of drugs called GLP-1. These treatments for obesity and diabetes have gained popularity over the past year and work by mimicking a hormone produced in the intestine to suppress a person's appetite. Neither Novo Nordisk nor Eli Lillywhich has its own weight loss drug, have been able to produce enough to meet the insatiable demand for its treatments.

Both analyzes are based on data published in November from Novo Nordisk's SELECT trial. Findings from that trial showed that Wegovy dramatically reduced the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other serious cardiovascular complications by 20% in people who were obese or overweight and also had cardiovascular disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Wegovy for that purpose in March.

The SELECT trial, which included more than 17,000 patients from more than 40 countries, evaluated the cardiovascular benefits of Wegovy.

Participants were not required to track diet and exercise because it was not an obesity study. Patients in the trial lost about 10% of their total body weight on average after 65 weeks of treatment with Wegovy, according to the first analysis published in the journal Nature.

Patients continued taking the medication weekly for a period of three years and four months and maintained their weight loss for up to four years. Other research has shown that many people regain weight after stopping medications.

The second analysis showed that patients in the trial got the cardiac benefits of Wegovy regardless of their weight when they started taking the drug and how much weight they lost on it.

For example, the reduced risk of serious cardiovascular events for those taking Wegovy, compared with placebo, was similar among people who lost 5% or more of their body weight, those who lost less than that, or even those who gained weight. weight.

The finding suggests that Wegovy helps improve a patient's heart health through methods beyond weight loss, the study authors concluded.

Notably, the weight loss in the trial was less than the average 15% weight loss seen in a previous study of Wegovy's effect on obesity.

But researchers in the first analysis noted that the earlier study was designed specifically for weight loss and included structured lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. The study population was also different from that of the SELECT trial.

Safety results from both analyzes were consistent with previous data from the SELECT trial. More people who took Wegovy than those who received a placebo decided to stop participating in the trial because of side effects.

Patients also experienced side effects consistent with other GLP-1 medications, such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation.

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