The trial was sponsored by Novo Nordisk, which makes Ozempic and Wegovy. Semaglutide was initially developed by the corporate as a medicine to deal with kind 2 diabetes. (It has been accredited by the US Meals and Drug Administration as Ozempic for diabetes and Wegovy for weight administration, though Ozempic can be prescribed off-label for weight reduction.)
Folks with kind 2 diabetes don’t make sufficient insulin or are proof against it. Semaglutide mimics the GLP-1 hormone, which is produced within the intestine and regulates blood sugar by prompting the physique to make insulin. This hormone additionally interacts with the mind to control urge for food, and the drug model results in weight reduction by signaling a sense of fullness so individuals eat much less.
Along with how the drug might scale back coronary heart failure in individuals with weight problems, Novo Nordisk is researching whether or not it presents extra common cardiovascular advantages. Final month, the corporate introduced that weekly injections of semaglutide over a five-year interval diminished the chance of stroke and coronary heart assault by 20 % in additional than 17,000 individuals with weight problems and a historical past of heart problems. The corporate hasn’t revealed detailed outcomes from that trial but, however it’s anticipated to disclose them at a convention later this yr.
“That’s actually thrilling,” says Martha Gulati, director of preventive cardiology within the Smidt Coronary heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Middle in Los Angeles. As a result of being chubby or overweight additionally will increase the chance of stroke and coronary heart assault, she expects sufferers who shed weight to have fewer of those occasions.
However Gulati says “that huge of a discount in cardiovascular occasions tells me there’s one thing else occurring.” She says it’s potential that semaglutide is having an anti-inflammatory impact, for instance. “I don’t suppose we completely know the way the drug works proper now,” she says.
There’s additionally early proof to indicate that Ozempic and Wegovy might dampen alcohol cravings. An impartial research revealed in June by researchers in Sweden discovered that giving the drug to alcohol-dependent rats diminished their alcohol consumption by 50 %.
Nathan Wong, director of the Coronary heart Illness Prevention Program on the College of California at Irvine Faculty of Drugs, says the center failure outcomes, mixed with Novo’s latest announcement, are promising. “This expands the potential usefulness of this remedy,” he says.
The newest findings construct on trial outcomes revealed in 2021, which discovered that for chubby or overweight individuals, the drug diminished physique weight by a median of 14.9 % and led to reductions in sure cardiovascular danger elements, equivalent to blood strain and the extent of lipids, or fatty compounds within the blood.
Primarily based on that 2021 paper, Wong and his colleagues used statistical modeling to estimate what number of Individuals might profit from semaglutide. His research, revealed in August, concluded that if all 93 million US adults who’re chubby and overweight have been prescribed the drug, over it might lead to 43 million fewer individuals with weight problems, and over 10 years, stop as much as 1.5 million coronary heart assaults, strokes, and different hostile cardiovascular occasions.
At present, statins are probably the most extensively used drugs to scale back the chance of coronary heart assault and stroke. They work by reducing LDL, or “unhealthy,” ldl cholesterol and have been proven to slash cardiovascular dangers. Semaglutide might provide extra advantages for individuals already taking statins.
Broader coronary heart advantages might imply extra individuals will need to take Ozempic and Wegovy. However for that to occur, Wong says, the medicine will have to be extra accessible. With out insurance coverage, Ozempic’s listing worth is $935 and Wegovy’s is $1,350 for a month-to-month prescription within the US. (A model for heart problems might include a distinct price ticket and model title.) Even with insurance coverage, some individuals might not be capable of afford copays, and provides of the drug are at present restricted due to excessive demand.
Novo Nordisk plans to hunt regulatory approval within the US and Europe for extra makes use of of semaglutide. As soon as a drug is already available on the market, the approval course of for extra indications is often speedier, for the reason that drug has already been proven to be secure. If it’s granted, this blockbuster drug might turn into its personal sequel.