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Efficacy and safety of semaglutide for weight loss in patients with obesity

In this paper, published in The Lancet, the authors sought to assess efficacy and safety of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue semaglutide, in comparison with a similar drug liraglutide, and placebo. The study was done in 8 countries, involving 71 clinical sites, with the primary endpoint being weight loss at week 52.

GLP-1 analogues mimic the function of human GLP-1, which regulates insulin secretion and glucagon secretion. These processes are linked with appetite, satiety and energy intake. This study found that these drugs, which were initially licensed for diabetes treatment, resulted in weight reductions which were significantly greater than the placebo group at 52 weeks. This weight loss is primarily due to the individuals consuming less energy, because of a combination of appetite suppression and enhanced satiety. Semaglutide was found to be the most effective, with weight loss of 11-14%, compared to Liraglutide’s 7-8%. In terms of side-effects, the most common complaint was of nausea. This was found to be dose dependent, so higher doses made side-effects more likely. Overall however, semaglutide was well tolerated, with no unanticipated safety or tolerability outcomes. Semaglutide has been shown to have a good benefit-risk profile which further supports its use as a weight management drug in its own right, instead of just being licensed for diabetes. Phase-3 studies are ongoing.

 

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