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Flood of popular weight loss drugs opens new doors, obstacles in GI

September 16, 2023

3 min read

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A surge of blockbuster anti-obesity drugs has dramatically changed the landscape for chronic weight management and opened new avenues of research in gastrointestinal and liver disease alongside concerns for potential GI side effects.

Healio reported on a new trial being funded by Novo Nordisk for semaglutide for fibrosis in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and the reintroduction of a bill to expand obesity care in Medicare. We also covered a lawsuit alleging Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly downplayed gastrointestinal events caused by their glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists.

In case you missed any of it, Healio put together a list of our latest coverage in weight loss and obesity interventions.
Image: Adobe Stock

In case you missed any of it, Healio put together a list of our latest coverage in weight loss and obesity interventions.

GI societies: ‘Little or no data’ linking GLP-1 agonists to safety issues during endoscopy

In response to safety concerns surrounding sedation for patients prescribed glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, the AGA, AASLD, ACG, ASGE and NASPGHAN encourage gastroenterologists to follow “best practices” for endoscopy procedures.

The use of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists for diabetes and weight loss management – including semaglutide (Ozempic/ Rybelsus/ Wegovy, Novo Nordisk), tirzepatide (Mounjaro, Eli Lilly), exenatide (Byetta, AstraZeneca), liraglutide (Saxenda, Novo Nordisk), albiglutide (Tanzeum, GlaxoSmithKline), dulaglutide (Trulicity, Eli Lilly) and lixisenatide (Adlyxin, Sanofi) – have been linked to adverse GI events such as abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Read more.

$9.5 million Novo Nordisk grant to fund trial of Ozempic, Wegovy for fibrosis in NAFLD

Novo Nordisk has awarded a $9.57 million grant supporting a clinical trial at the University of California San Diego NAFLD Research Center to evaluate the use of semaglutide in patients with fibrosis due to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

NAFLD remains the second leading indication for liver transplantation in the United States, affecting approximately 24% of adults according to the NIH. Despite multiple hopeful contenders in the race for a first-to-market therapy, none have yet crossed the FDA finish line. Read more.

AGA praises Treat and Reduce Obesity Act reintroduction to expand obesity care in Medicare

The AGA applauded the reintroduction of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act into the 118th Congress as this bill would expand Medicare coverage for screening and treatment of obesity by health care providers specializing in obesity care.

The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2023 (TROA; H.R. 4818/S. 2407), a bipartisan and bicameral bill seeks coverage under Medicare Part D for FDA-approved medications to treat obesity. Read more.

Lawsuit claims Ozempic, Mounjaro labels ‘downplayed severity’ of gastroparesis

A personal injury law firm has filed a lawsuit against Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, alleging the manufacturers “downplayed the severity of the gastrointestinal events caused by Ozempic and Mounjaro,” such as gastroparesis and gastroenteritis.

The plaintiff, Jaclyn Bjorklund, had reportedly been prescribed Ozempic (semaglutide, Novo Nordisk), a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, for management of type 2 diabetes for more than a year before she was switched to Mounjaro (tirzepatide, Eli Lilly) in July 2023. Read more.

Q&A: Gastroparesis from Ozempic, Wegovy ‘uncommon’

Recent reports in the media and legal action have raised questions about the safety of popular weight-loss drugs, particularly about whether they increase the risk for events such as gastroparesis and gastroenteritis.

Healio spoke with Lydia Alexander, MD, president-elect of the Obesity Medicine Association and chief medical officer of Enara Health, to learn more about the safety and efficacy of weight-loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy (semaglutide, Novo Nordisk) and what primary care physicians need to know about them. Read more.

No difference between semaglutide, placebo in fibrosis improvement in patients with NASH

Although semaglutide did not “significantly improve” fibrosis in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and compensated cirrhosis, notable improvements were reported in cardiometabolic parameters and markers of liver fat and injury.

“Previous studies in patients with NASH and stage 2 or 3 fibrosis have shown that semaglutide can improve NASH resolution over 72 weeks. However, there are limited data whether any therapy is effective in patients with NASH cirrhosis,” Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc, director of hepatology and the NAFLD Research Center and vice chief of gastroenterology at the University of California, San Diego, told Healio. “Patients with NASH-related cirrhosis are at high risk for dying from liver diseases.” Read more.


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