A selection of injection pens for weight loss drug Wegovy are seen in this photo illustration in Chicago, Illinois March 31, 2023.

Jim Vondruska | Reuters

Wegovy, Novo Nordisk’s popular weight-loss drug, significantly reduced symptoms of a common form of heart failure in patients with obesity, according to a late-stage clinical trial published on Friday.

Wegovy helped relieve symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in the legs and irregular heartbeat. It also resulted in lower blood pressure and a reduction in inflammation — two important indicators of heart health.

The findings add to Wegovy’s growing list of potential health benefits that go beyond shedding unwanted pounds. This could potentially lead to increased use of the drug and increased coverage by insurers. The results also add to groundbreaking study data released by Novo Nordisk earlier this month that found Wegovy reduced the risk of serious heart problems by 20%.

“We look forward to working closely with the clinical community and regulators to realize this potential over the coming months,” said Martin Lange, head of development at Novo Nordisk, in a press release. He was referring to the heart health benefits observed in both studies.

The new study of 529 obese patients focused on a heart condition known as preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) — a condition that accounts for about half of all heart failure cases in the US and occurs when the lower chamber of the heart pumps less blood than it does the body needs.

An estimated 2.5 million people in the US suffer from this disease and more than 80% of these patients also suffer from obesity.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that Wegovy resulted in an improvement of almost 17 points on a 100-point scale used to assess the symptoms of HFpEF.

In comparison, patients who received placebo saw a 9-point improvement.

Wegovy also led to improvements in physical limitations: patients taking the drug were able to walk further in six minutes than those in the placebo group.

Participants taking Wegovy also lost around 13% of their body weight over the year-long study, compared with 2.6% for those taking placebo.

The patients taking Wegovy had fewer serious safety events compared to the patients taking placebo. But more patients stopped taking Wegovy because of gastrointestinal problems commonly seen with other weight-loss drugs.

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A limitation of the study was its lack of diversity: 96% of the participants were white.

Wegovy and Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic sparked a gold rush in the weight-loss industry last year for helping patients shed unwanted weight. They belong to a class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists, which mimic a hormone produced in the gut to suppress a person’s appetite.

But Novo Nordisk is struggling with supply shortages that have led to shortages of both drugs.

There are also recent reports of patients having thoughts of suicide and harming themselves after taking Wegovy and other weight-loss drugs, raising questions about the unintended and potentially life-threatening side effects of the treatments

Source : www.cnbc.com

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