Salem Radio Network News Sunday, April 2, 2023


Novo obesity drug to launch in the UK soon, says watchdog

By Natalie Grover

LONDON (Reuters) – Novo Nordisk’s keenly anticipated weight loss medicine, Wegovy, will soon be made available to thousands of people in the UK, the country’s drug cost-effectiveness watchdog NICE said on Wednesday.

Data from a clinical trial showed that participants on Wegovy lost on average 12.4% more of their body weight than those who received a placebo.

The drug’s use will be limited to adults being treated at an specialist NHS weight management service who have at least one weight-related condition, such as heart disease, and body mass index (BMI) – a measure of body fat based on height and weight – of 35 indicating obesity, alongside diet and exercise adjustments, NICE said.

It could also be prescribed to people with a slightly lower BMI than the limit it set in certain cases.

The main active ingredient in Wegovy is semaglutide, the same as the Danish drugmaker’s blockbuster diabetes drug Ozempic.

The drugs belong to a family of medicines known as GLP-1 analogues originally designed to control blood sugar but that also led to weight loss by making people feel full. Other drugmakers are also repurposing similar diabetes medicines as weight loss treatments.

Patients can inject themselves with Wegovy once a week, but the drug will only be used for a maximum of two years, NICE said. Its regulatory endorsement was based on clinical data tracking the drug’s safety and effectiveness for about two years.

Longer-term data is expected to be published this year and will be shared with health authorities, including the NHS, a Novo spokesperson said.

A follow-up to the initial clinical trial – in which participants were monitored after stopping Wegovy – showed that they all regained nearly all the weight lost over the course of the following year, said Dr Simon Cork from Anglia Ruskin University.

This demonstrates that obesity is a lifelong condition and that semaglutide is a treatment rather than a cure, he said, adding that it was likely Wegovy would offer only temporary weight loss for many of the patients to whom it is prescribed.

About 28% of adults in England are considered obese, and a further 36% are overweight, NICE said, citing 2019 figures.  

Wegovy has been in great demand since its initial launch in the United States.

According to Novo Nordisk, sales grew nearly 300% in local currencies last year, despite serious supply issues throughout 2022, partly due to manufacturing constraints the company is working to alleviate.

A spokesperson said there is no official UK launch date for the drug, but the company is working on making it available as soon as possible.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London; Editing by Bill Berkrot)


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