HomeHealthWegovy Cuts Risk of Heart Problems, Novo Nordisk Trial Says

Wegovy Cuts Risk of Heart Problems, Novo Nordisk Trial Says

A new obesity drug, Wegovy, reduced the risk of serious heart problems by 20 percent in a large trial, according to the drug’s maker. This finding challenges the perception of weight loss drugs as purely cosmetic and may lead to increased insurance coverage. The trial showed that obesity drugs can have lasting benefits for heart health in overweight individuals without diabetes, addressing a significant and costly issue in healthcare. The results highlight the need for patients with obesity to have access to effective and safe drugs to prevent future diseases.

Although the announcement by Novo Nordisk, the maker of Wegovy, lacked some details, it revealed that the drug reduced the overall risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular deaths by 20 percent. The effects of the drug on each outcome individually were not provided, and information regarding weight loss, side effects, and patient dropout rates were also missing. Further detailed results will be presented at a scientific conference later in the year. However, this trial, involving nearly 18,000 adults with previous cardiovascular disease, supports the idea that obesity drugs can offer long-term health benefits in addition to weight loss, challenging the notion that they are solely vanity drugs. This could encourage insurers to cover the drug, especially for patients with existing heart disease.

The lack of coverage by Medicare and some employer insurance plans is often due to the belief that weight loss medications are non-essential remedies. Moreover, Wegovy’s high list price makes it unaffordable for most individuals without insurance coverage. Nevertheless, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes can lead to significant economic benefits, including increased productivity and reduced spending on less effective obesity treatments. The potential competition between drugs in the same class may drive down prices. While currently approved for chronic weight management, Novo Nordisk plans to seek clearance for Wegovy in additional medical indications. Another version of the drug, Ozempic, has shown similar benefits for diabetes patients.

Martin Holst Lange, Novo Nordisk’s executive vice president for development, believes that the latest trial demonstrates the drug’s potential to change how obesity is perceived and treated. Scientists have yet to determine precisely how the drug reduces the risk of heart complications. The new class of obesity drugs has shown direct effects on blood vessels and the heart, as well as indirect effects through weight loss, blood pressure reduction, and inflammation reduction. Further details from the trial will shed light on the relationship between weight loss and cardiovascular benefits. This trial marks the beginning of a new era in improving the health of people with obesity.

The trial will also provide insight into the incidence of side effects, given its size and duration. Some reported side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and stomach pain, which led to discontinuation of the medication for some patients. Additionally, this trial may change the approach to obesity, shifting the focus from personal responsibility to recognizing it as a medical condition that requires treatment. The results underscore the need to treat obesity like any other disease.