Mixed Reaction to Positive Obesity Results for Liraglutide

Novo Nordisk announced positive results last week from a one-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 clinical trial of the potential for liraglutide to reduce and maintain weight in people with type 2 diabetes and excess weight or obesity. Liraglutide is a once-daily injection used to treat type 2 diabetes that has been available in the U.S. for a little over three years. Weight loss for people treated with liraglutide 3 mg and liraglutide 1.8 mg at the end of the study was 6% and 5% respectively, compared to a 2% weight loss for people treated with placebo.

Though these results seem to meet FDA standards for efficacy of obesity treatments, reaction was mixed. Investors hoping for dramatic efficacy were disappointed. A more realistic view would be that liraglutide has the potential to become one more option for managing obesity at a time when doctors have few good ones.

“We are pleased about the outcome of this trial and look forward to getting the results from the two remaining trials in the SCALE program”, said Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, EVP and chief science officer of Novo Nordisk. The company expects to complete the two remaining phase 3 trials by mid-2013.

The proportion of people achieving weight loss of at least 5% or 10% was 50% and 22% for liraglutide 3 mg. It was 35% and 13% for liraglutide 1.8 mg. For the placebo group, it was 13% and 4%.

Liraglutide is presently sold only for type 2 diabetes treatment under the brand name Victoza. It is in a class of medicines known as GLP-1 agonists that help the pancreas make more insulin after eating a meal. Unlike liraglutide, many other treatments for diabetes, including insulin, can actually cause weight gain.

Click here to read more from Reuters and click here to read the results released by Novo Nordisk.

Mouse Islet image © Michele Solimena / Wikimedia Commons