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Wegovy Reduces Stroke and Heart Attack Risks, Claims Company

Novo Nordisk's obesity drug Wegovy reduces the risk of cardiovascular events by 20%, offering medical benefits beyond weight reduction.

The groundbreaking obesity medication Wegovy has been found to decrease the likelihood of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, by an impressive 20%, according to Novo Nordisk, the drug's manufacturer. This discovery marks the first time that a weight-loss drug has been shown to have medical advantages beyond simply reducing weight.

Dr. Shauna Levy, an expert in obesity medicine and the medical director of the Tulane Bariatric Center in New Orleans, believes that these results could be persuasive enough to convince insurance companies to cover the cost of Wegovy. Many individuals who have sought to take the drug have faced challenges in obtaining insurance coverage for the expensive weekly injections, which cost over $1,300 per month. This is due to the perception that it is merely a medication for lifestyle purposes.

Levy emphasizes the significance of the 20% reduction, stating that it is a substantial figure. She believes that the focus on cosmetic reasons has overshadowed the potential health benefits that can be derived from this medication. The study, which involved over 17,000 adults aged 45 and above with overweight or obesity and pre-existing cardiovascular disease but no history of diabetes, was a late-stage clinical trial. Participants were given a 2.4-milligram dose of Wegovy or a placebo in addition to standard care.

Novo Nordisk assures that the drug is safe and well tolerated, consistent with previous clinical trials. However, the company has not disclosed the amount of weight lost by the participants, and it remains unclear whether the cardiovascular benefits were solely due to weight loss or if there were other mechanisms at play.

Novo Nordisk plans to provide more detailed information about the trial during its earnings call on Thursday. The company has faced challenges in meeting the high demand for Wegovy as well as Ozempic, another medication it produces for Type 2 diabetes that has been prescribed off-label for weight loss. Both Wegovy and Ozempic contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of adults in the U.S. are affected by obesity, which is a risk factor for various diseases including heart attacks, strokes, sleep apnea, liver disease, and cancer. Pharmaceutical companies have been conducting clinical trials to demonstrate that their medications can reduce the risk of weight-related conditions.

Levy believes that this is just the beginning and that the health benefits of these medications are far-reaching. She suggests that the weight loss achieved through the drug could potentially have benefits comparable to those of bariatric surgery, which has been proven to reduce the risk of death from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments.

Novo Nordisk intends to request that the Food and Drug Administration include cardiovascular benefits on Wegovy's prescription label later this year.

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