A new medication called ‘Wegovy’ produced by Novo Nordisk has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help patients with obesity manage their weight. It’s the first chronic weight management drug to have been approved by the FDA since 2014.
Wegovy is a synthetic version of a hormone in the gut known as glycogen-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). It works by targeting areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake.
Prior approval, the drug’s safety and efficacy were examined in four 68-week trials. Throughout these trials, over 2,600 patients received Wegovy for up to 68 weeks while over 1,500 received a placebo.
In the largest of the trials, participants had an average weight of 231 pounds (105 kg) and an average BMI of 38 kg/m2 prior to taking the drug.
The average age at the beginning of the trial was 46 years old and 74% of the participants were female. None had diabetes. At the end of the trial, the researchers found that those who received Wegovy lost an average of 12.4% of their initial body weight compared to those who received the placebo.
In another trial, the average age was 55, 51% of participants were female, and all had type 2 diabetes. Their average body weight was 220 pounds (100kg) and their average BMI was 36 kg/m2. In this trial, patients on Wegovy lost 6.2% of their body weight in comparison to those in the control group.
Common side effects of the drug include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, abominable pain, headache, fatigue and low blood sugar. Among those with diabetes, side effects also included flatulence and gastroenteritis (an intestinal infection). While most side effects resolved on their own, 5% of participants stopped taking the medication because of them.
“Individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes are likely good candidates for the dual benefit of improved blood sugar control and weight loss,” said Dr. Aleem Kanji, a board-certified endocrinologist and obesity medicine physician with Ethos Endocrinology in Houston, to Healthline.