The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of semaglutide to tackle diabetes and obesity. The injection is administered once a week and approved to manage chronic obesity and weight loss problems. The diabetes injection drug enables people to drop about 12% of body weight within one year.
“This under-the-skin injection is the first approved drug for chronic weight management in adults with general obesity or overweight since 2014,” the FDA said.
The new drug was manufactured by Novo Nordisk and will be marketed under the brand name Wegovy. It works by suppressing appetite, increasing the production of insulin, and reducing the body’s ability to store fat.
According to the FDA, about 70% of American adults are either obese or overweight. The agency said obesity or overweight predisposes individuals to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some form of cancer. Unchecked obesity is also linked to premature death. Health experts said reducing the body weight by 5% to 10% through diet and exercise could reduce the risks of heart disease in overweight people.
During the trial, people who took semaglutide lost about 12.4% body weight in 16 months white obese diabetes patients lost 6.2% more after taking the drug. People who got administered with placebo injection lost lesser body weight within the same period, Yahoo reports.
John Sharretts, deputy director of the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research hailed the approval of semaglutide, saying obese and overweight people will have another treatment option to consider for their weight management program.
One of the participants in the trial, 58-year-old Marleen Greenleaf of Maryland, lost 40 pounds within one year. She said the fact that the injection is administered once a week makes it easier for obesity treatment compared with others which must be taken every day. Her successful weight loss even enabled her to donate a kidney to her husband who was on dialysis.
“I’ve been working on this weight-loss journey for so long, and I’ve tried so many things,” Greenleaf said. “Weight loss has always been a challenge for me. I have basically done the yo-yo dieting where I lose the weight and then it comes back on.”
Not many weight loss drugs are approved by the FDA in the United States. A few of those already approved include orlistat, sold as Xenical; Qsymia; Contrave; and Saxenda among others.
Dr. W. Scott Butsch, director of obesity medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, said the FDA’s approval of semaglutide represents a paradigm shift in the benign treatment of obesity.