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A Pill to Treat Obesity: Soon to be a Reality


Treating obesity has long been challenging, but what if there was a solution as simple as popping a pill? For over 40% of Americans who are considered obese, this notion has offered a glimmer of hope. However, some remain critical, advocating for weight acceptance.

Now, there is reason to believe that high-dose oral versions of Wegovy, a weight-loss drug, may be as effective as the popular injections when it comes to shedding pounds and improving one’s overall health. Two studies have confirmed that the potent tablets also work well for individuals with diabetes, who tend to experience difficulty losing weight.

Novo Nordisk NOVO.B, +0.22%, the pharmaceutical company behind Wegovy, plans to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this year. Meanwhile, Dr. Daniel Bessesen, Chief of Endocrinology at Denver Health, who treats patients struggling with obesity, indicates that patients overwhelmingly prefer taking pills to injections. However, he stressed that efficacy, availability, and affordability are essential factors when it comes to choosing between the two options.

Currently, there are other weight-loss pills on the market, but none match the significant reductions achieved with injected drugs like Wegovy. Therefore, people with obesity are eagerly anticipating an oral option that is equally effective. Dr. Katherine Saunders, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Health and co-founder of Intellihealth, a weight-loss center, believes an oral version of Wegovy will be music to their ears.

Novo Nordisk’s High Dose Oral Semaglutide Shows Promising Results in Reducing Weight and Improving Blood Sugar

Novo Nordisk has recently released the results of two trials at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting which look at how doses of oral semaglutide help to reduce weight and improve blood sugar and other health markers.

The medication, which already comes in doses up to 14 milligrams, has been found in the trials to be even more effective in doses as high as 25 milligrams and 50 milligrams. The 16-month study of about 1,600 people who were being treated for Type 2 diabetes found that higher doses resulted in significantly better lowered blood sugar levels and greater weight loss of between 15 and 20 pounds compared to the standard dose of Rybelsus, which resulted in only about a 10-pound weight loss.

Similarly, another 16-month study of over 660 overweight or obese adults found that a daily 50-milligram pill helped them lose an average of about 15% of their body weight, or about 35 pounds, versus only 6 pounds with a dummy pill or placebo. This is consistent with the weight loss effects of weekly shots with the highest Wegovy dose.

While these trials have shown promising results for high-dose oral semaglutide, it’s important to note that there were some side effects experienced by participants, including mild to moderate intestinal problems like nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. Further studies will be needed to determine the long-term efficacy and safety of the medication.

New Pills for Obesity May Soon Be Available

In a recent obesity trial, it was found that people who took a 50-milligram drug had higher rates of benign tumors compared to those who took a placebo. 13% of those who took the drug also experienced altered skin sensations like tingling or extra sensitivity. Despite this, medical experts predict that the pills will be quite popular, particularly among individuals who are afraid of needles and prefer a more portable option.

However, for the hundreds of thousands of people currently taking injectable versions such as Ozempic or Wegovy, the pills are not necessarily a better option, according to Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity medicine expert at Massachusetts General Hospital. She stated that she does not find a significant level of hesitancy surrounding receiving an injection, and many patients appreciate the convenience of receiving medication once a week.

She also suggests that some patients may prefer the shots over the new pills, which must be taken 30 minutes before breakfast. Paul Morer, who works for a hospital system in New Jersey and lost 85 pounds using Wegovy, is one such example. While he hopes to lose 30 more pounds, he stated that he plans to stick with the weekly injections since it’s already part of his routine, adding that he “doesn’t even feel the needle.”

The Future of Pills for Obesity and Diabetes

Some people are excited about the future of pills that can treat both obesity and diabetes. Novo Nordisk’s Rybelsus is a higher-dose pill that achieved around $1.63 billion in sales last year and is expected to grow even more in popularity. Other companies, like Eli Lilly and Pfizer, are also developing oral versions of drugs that are usually only offered as injections.

While some people worry that these pills will increase pressure on obese people to change their bodies, others see them as a solution to two problems at once. Currently, many people take different pills for obesity and diabetes separately.

However, the cost and manufacturing capacity of these pills is still unknown. Gewovy, for example, will have limited supply until at least September. Despite this, the future of these pills seems bright, promising to make treatment for obesity and diabetes simpler and more efficient.

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