New Weight Loss Medication


STEP 1 – Is semaglutide (Ozempic) the first step?


There has been a recent trial published of once-weekly injection of semaglutide (Ozempic). Semaglutide is a type of medication approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults and for reducing the risk of cardiovascular events in persons with type 2 diabetes.


In previous trials in patients with type 2 diabetes, semaglutide induced weight loss. This is a very promising medication, for patients who are struggling with their weight. Medication use may form part of the puzzle for people looking to improve their health.


The global phase 3 Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity (STEP) program aims to evaluate this medication further – this trial was STEP 1.


The trial enrolled 1961 adults, with a BMI of ≥ 30 (or ≥ 27 in people with ≥ 1 weight-related coexisting condition), who did not have diabetes. The trial aimed to assess % weight loss in patients, with a significant loss being at least 5%.


At the end of 68 weeks, the mean change in body weight from baseline was -14.9% in the semaglutide group compared to -2.4% with placebo. The actual change in body weight was -15.3kg in the semaglutide group compared to -2.6kg in the placebo. Patients with Ozempic also had an improvement in their cardiometabolic risk factors.


The side-effects included nausea and diarrhoea and were usually transient and mild to moderate in severity. Semaglutide was discontinued in 4.5% of patients. It is also important to note that the trial ran over a short period of time, 68 weeks, and that patients with type 2 diabetes were excluded. These are encouraging short-term results, with further information being obtained through further trials.


There are also numerous other medications currently being trialled, and these may further add to the available options. Medical management has a role, however long-term management requires detailed assessment from experienced clinicians, including weight-loss GPs, dieticians and surgeons.


As a community, we need to continue to help patients who are struggling with their weight and consider the use of these important new therapies – just like we would for patients with high blood pressure. Weight loss is incredibly difficult to achieve and sustain, and a supportive environment is important.


If you are interested in learning more about weight loss management options, please contact Dr Balalis for further information.


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