In large trial, weight loss drug found to reduce risk of heart attacks, strokes by 20%
As you grow older, it’s less about fitting into your old jeans and more about keeping your health in tip-top shape.
So it comes as a welcome surprise then that the obesity drug Wegovy could actually do both—in particular, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack by 20 percent.
Its Danish manufacturer Novo Nordisk confirmed the results of a large clinical trial of more than 17,000 adults, aged 45 and up, grappling with obesity and cardiovascular issues (but with no diabetes).
Participants took either a 2.4 milligram dose of Wegovy or a placebo on top of the standard care. And the verdict? Not only is it “safe and well-tolerated” but those who took the drug exhibited a significant reduction in major adverse cardiovascular event risks. That’s 20 percent less likely to experience heart issues.
“People living with obesity have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease but to date, there are no approved weight management medications proven to deliver effective weight management while also reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death,” said Martin Holst Lange, executive vice president for Development at Novo Nordisk.
A new study by the maker of the popular weight-loss drug Wegovy found it could lower the risks of serious and even deadly heart problems.
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) August 9, 2023
However, scientists not involved in the trial have yet to look at the results. Novo Nordisk also didn’t disclose how much weight the participants lost, making it unclear if the cardiovascular benefits were from the weight reduction or from some other effects of Wegovy.
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Although the drugmaker assured that they have plans on sharing more details about their clinical trial, some experts have remarked on the results.
Dr. Holly Lofton, the director of weight management program at NYU Langone Health and one of the experts at the Wegovy trial, said that the proof of the medicine’s capacity to reduce heart ailments alongside weight loss may change perceptions on seeing Wegovy as just a vanity drug.
“Because of stigma regarding weight, it’s not well-received,” Lofton said.
Furthermore, Dr. Shauna Levy, a specialist in obesity medicine and the medical director of the Tulane Bariatric Center in New Orleans, said that even without the release of the clinical trial’s full details, this might be enough to encourage insurance companies to cover for such an expensive medication.
Even with its double benefits, Wegovy isn’t cheap. Each 2.4 mg injection costs $1,349 per package covering a month’s supply. And consumers are currently having a hard time getting this covered under their insurance because as a weight loss pill, it is not a necessary medication.
“Twenty percent is huge,” Levy added. “All of this narrative about people just wanting this for cosmetic reasons, I think, to some degree, has overshadowed all of the health benefits we can get from this medication.”
And while Wegovy might be a viable treatment for both, there are still some cons to consider. Serious side effects include nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and even pancreatitis.
But as expected, Novo Nordisk’s stock shares soared by more than 17 percent on Tuesday after they announced the clinical trial findings.
Wegovy might just be the game changer you’ve been waiting for. But before giving it a try, best to wait until Novo Nordisk releases the full trial results.