Wegovy, a novel obesity therapy, was shown to reduce the risk of significant cardiac issues by 20% in a huge experiment, the drug’s manufacturer said on Tuesday. This discovery might challenge the common belief that weight reduction therapies are only aesthetic medicines and increase the pressure on insurers to cover them.
The experiment was the first to show that the new class of obesity medications may improve heart health in overweight adults without diabetes.
Since 100 million American adults are obese and obesity-related health problems cost approximately $150 billion annually in medical expenses, the new medicines have the potential to tackle some of the most serious and expensive diseases in the United States.
Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Wegovy, made a statement on Tuesday, although it lacked many information. The manufacturer claims a 20% reduction in cardiovascular events including heart attacks, strokes, and fatalities as a result of taking their medicine. However, the report did not detail how the medicine affected each particular result.
The business also did not explain how much weight patients lost, how many patients discontinued use of the medicine due to adverse effects, or the percentage of patients who did so. The information has not yet been published in a scholarly publication, but the business has promised to share its findings in further depth at a scientific meeting later this year.
Nonetheless, over 18,000 people with a history of cardiovascular disease were included in the experiment and followed for up to five years. Experts claimed it disproved the notion that obesity medicines are essentially cosmetic remedies that have no effect on patients’ fundamental health and instead only assist them shed weight temporarily.
That may convince more insurance companies to cover the medicine, at least for those with preexisting cardiac conditions like those in the experiment.
Weight reduction pills are not considered necessary medical therapies, which is why Medicare does not pay for them and why some employer insurance plans do not cover them. Most people without health insurance cannot afford the $1,349 monthly stated price of the medicine.
Dr. Garthwaite believes that lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease would have several economic advantages, including recouping lost productivity due to heart disease and decreasing expenditure on ineffective therapies for obesity.
However, he said, the advantages to patients’ heart health may be so far in the future that insurers may not notice immediate cost savings. He speculated that if more medications in the new class of obesity therapy were shown to be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease, it may lead to competition across goods, ultimately driving down costs.
In the United States, Wegovy may be used for long-term weight control. Novo Nordisk has said that it would submit a request to the FDA and EMA to expand the drug’s approved medical uses.
Ozempic, a Novo Nordisk product, is an FDA-approved medication for treating type 2 diabetes in adults. Ozempic also lowered the incidence of cardiac problems in diabetic individuals, according to a minor clinical research.
Executive VP of Development Martin Holst Lange said the results of the newest study showed the medicine “has the potential to change how obesity is regarded and treated.”
When asked how exactly the medicine reduced people’s chance of cardiac issues, scientists indicated they were unsure.
However, they may also indirectly reduce the risk of heart disease by affecting factors such as body mass index (BMI), blood pressure (BP), and inflammation.
To further understand how Wegovy was enhancing people’s cardiovascular health, researchers will be able to examine the correlation between the amount of weight patients shed and the advantages to their cardiovascular system provided by the treatment.
However, he said that the trial’s size and length would make it useful for studying the frequency of adverse effects. Some patients who experienced side symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, and stomach discomfort discontinued usage of the drug.
The experiment has the potential to alter a treatment philosophy for obesity that has placed the onus of duty for preventing weight gain squarely on the shoulders of patients, according to experts.