America has a new weapon in the fight against obesity. The FDA on Friday approved a new weight loss drug, Wegovy, for people who are either overweight or obese and have at least one weight-related medical problem.
“We need to think about obesity, which is no different from hypertension than high cholesterol than diabetes,” said Dr. Domenica Rubino, director of the Washington Center for Weight Management and Research.
Rubino said that people who take existing obesity medication lose on average approx. 7% to 9% of their body weight. “People who need 10%, 15%, 20% weight loss, we need tools,”
During a 16-month study, patients on Wegovy lost an average of 17% of their body weight. Side effects included diarrhea and nausea, which usually disappeared as the dose was slowly increased. Patients who removed the drug regained more than half of their weight loss.
Test participant Lisa Robillard lost 63 pounds. She said she has previously tried fad diets or other methods that she thought would help her lose weight.
“I was not hungry between meals, which was just unheard of for me. I was getting faster faster and craving that I had disappeared,” she said of the new drug.
Wegovy is similar to the diabetes drug Ozempic, which is already being prescribed off-label for weight loss. Both drugs mimic a natural hormone that helps regulate appetite. Wegovy is approved for long-term use, and it is recommended that it be paired with diet and exercise.
“These hormones actually affect signals in the brain,” Rubino said. “It really does not just come down to willpower. It’s much more complicated. This physiology is very strong and it’s not your fault.”