Now people can keep their obesity worry at bay. The Food and Drug Administration approved Wegovy, a higher-dose version of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug semaglutide for weight loss on Friday.
The new version of a popular diabetes medicine could be sold as a weight-loss drug in the U.S. Obesity is rising concern in US as more than 100 million adults; about one in three are obese. Shedding even 5% of one’s weight can bring health benefits, such as improved energy, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
In company-funded studies, participants taking Wegovy had an average weight loss of 15%, about 34 pounds (15.3 kilograms). Participants lost weight steadily for 16 months before plateauing. In a comparison group getting dummy shots, the average weight loss was about 2.5%, or just under 6 pounds.
Also, Wegovy appears far safer than earlier obesity drugs, the most common side effects were nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
The drug also shouldn’t be given to people at risk for some cancers, because of a potential risk for certain thyroid tumors.
Patients can inject Wegovy weekly under their skin. Like other weight-loss drugs, it’s to be used along with exercise, a healthy diet and other steps like keeping a food diary. The drug typically could not costs $850 or more per month without insurance.
Wegovy is a synthesized version of a gut hormone that curbs appetite. That’s a new strategy in treating obesity. Novo Nordisk also is developing a pill version that should start final patient studies later this year.