SEMAGLUTIDE THE BEST WEIGHT LOSS DRUG APPROVED BY THE FDA IN 2021
Weight loss medication gets a bad rap, and it’s not hard to understand why. Over the years, both over-the-counter
and prescription drugs have been disappointing, with lackluster results and unpleasant side effects. Others have
turned out to be dangerous or even deadly. Is the newly approved semaglutide any different? Obesity experts think
so. The drug, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in early June and sold under the brand name Wegovy, is for “chronic weight management” in clinically obese adults, who are defined as those with a body
mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. But people considered merely overweight, with a BMI of at least 27, are also
eligible, provided they have at least one weight-related aliment, such as high blood pressure, high BMI of at least
27, are also eligible, provided they have at least one weight-related aliment, such as high blood pressure, high
cholesterol or type 2 diabetes. Semaglutide isn’t a new drug but rather a repurposed one; the same active
ingredient has been on the market since 2017 as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. Use of the drug as a once-weekly
injection designed to lower blood sugar often leads to some weight loss – especially among patients who take the 1
mg-per-week dose instead of the lower .5 mg option.
Thanks to the new FDA approval, an even higher dose of semaglutide, 2.4 mg, will now be sold specifically for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy.
Drug trials show a third lost 20 percent of their body weight.
The drugs manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, conducted several studies on the safety and efficacy of the 2.4-mg dose
before applying to the FDA for approval. The largest study, a 68-week double-blind trial of nearly 2,000 obese
adults who did not have diabetes, found the people who took 2.4 mg of semaglutide weekly – in addition to
participating in a diet and exercise program – lost significantly more weight than those who made the same lifestyle
changes but were given placebo injections.
Half of the participants in the semaglutide group were able to lose at least 15 percent of their body weight, and
nearly a third were able to lose 20 percent. (Those I the placebo group lost 2.4 percent of their starting weight.)
“The data is pretty impressive,” says Jennifer L Kirby, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of
Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Virginia Health System. “We have limited amount of tools in
our toolbox when it comes to the treatment of overweight and obesity. The addition of semaglutide is excellent