Liraglutide: Another New Drug for Obesity This Year?

Novo Nordisk has been busy presenting pivotal clinical trial data for their diabetes drug — liraglutide — in the treatment of obesity. Both at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists meeting and at the European Congress on Obesity, investigators presented a one year study on its usefulness in treating obesity for people who do not have diabetes. Liraglutide is sold under the brand name Victoza.

Liraglutide is a daily subcutaneous injection that has been available in Europe since 2009 and in the U.S. since 2010 for people with type 2 diabetes. It’s long been known that weight loss is one of the desirable side effects of liraglutide in treating diabetes.

Now it’s becoming increasingly clear that it may be a useful treatment in its own right for obesity, even in people who don’t yet have type 2 diabetes. In the  trial just presented, 3,731 patients who did not have diabetes were randomized to either 3mg of liraglutide daily or a placebo. For diabetes, the typical dose is lower, 1.8mg.

Patients who received liraglutide lost an average of 8% of their body weight at the end of 56 weeks of treatment. Those on placebo lost only 2.6%. The most common  adverse effects were nausea and diarrhea, which were mostly mild or moderate and transient.

So with this data in hand, Novo Nordisk will go before a panel of experts at FDA on September 11 to review liraglutide’s safety and efficacy in obesity. You can expect that the panel will look very closely at safety, given the higher dose being sought to treat obesity.

Five years ago, medical innovation companies were fleeing from the field of obesity. This year, three new treatments are under review at FDA. Perhaps we’re making some progress.

Click here to read more in MedicalXpress and here to access the abstract of the study presented most recently (the link should take you directly to the abstract on page 15).

Subcutaneous, photograph © NapInterrupted / flickr

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