A new trial has found that the weight-loss drug Wegovy, manufactured by Novo Nordisk, also reduces the risk of a stroke or heart attack. The study, hailed as a "landmark trial" by the company, shows that the drug cuts the risk of a cardiovascular event in overweight individuals with heart disease by 20%. While the findings are still pending full review, experts agree that they are potentially significant.
Wegovy, an injection taken once a week, tricks individuals into feeling full, leading to reduced food intake and weight loss. It was approved for use in the NHS in England in June after research indicated that users could lose more than 10% of their body weight. However, previous trials showed that users often regained weight after stopping treatment.
The recent study involved over 17,600 adults aged 45 and older with a body mass index of 27 or higher and established cardiovascular disease. Patients who received a 2.4mg once-weekly dose of Wegovy, in addition to standard care for the prevention of heart attacks or strokes, experienced a 20% reduction in the risk of a heart attack or stroke compared to those given a placebo drug.
According to Prof Stephen O'Rahilly from the University of Cambridge, the long-awaited results "do not disappoint" and suggest that obesity should be viewed as a medical condition, with drug therapy playing a role in reducing adverse health outcomes. Dr Simon Cork, senior lecturer in physiology at Anglia Ruskin University, believes that the results offer hope in addressing the growing public health issue of obesity, which costs the NHS over £6bn per year.
Novo Nordisk plans to present its new research to regulators in the US and the European Union later this year. Regulators in the UK would also need to approve the drug for it to be offered on the NHS beyond its current use for weight loss.
Overall, the trial results suggest that Wegovy has potential as a weight-loss drug that can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in overweight individuals with heart disease. However, further review and regulatory approval are necessary before any widespread changes in treatment are implemented.