Insulin Vials

Diabetes Spawning More Options for Obesity Care

People living with obesity are finally beginning to see more options for obesity care and, in part, they can thank competition to innovate in diabetes care for some of this progress. A particularly visible example of this is liraglutide, which has been available for treating type 2 diabetes since 2009. After six years of use for diabetes under the brand name Victoza, it’s currently being introduced at a higher dose under the Saxenda brand name.

New data on liraglutide’s use in obesity and related conditions is continuing to accumulate. At the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists meeting in Nashville, five studies of liraglutide safety and efficacy were presented last week.

Separately, at the 50th International Liver Congress, independent investigators presented data on liraglutide from a small randomized, controlled study of people with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is an important complication of obesity (it has other causes, too) for which good treatments are lacking. The investigators concluded that liraglutide was safe, well-tolerated, reduced the progression of fibrosis, and met its primary endpoint of histological clearance of NASH. This small study is certainly not enough to support an indication, but it may provide the basis for a pivotal trial.

Likewise, another relatively new treatment for diabetes may be on its way to becoming a new option for medical care of obesity. J&J’s Invokana (canagliflozin) was introduced for treating type 2 diabetes in 2013. Like liraglutide, its use is associated with some weight loss that can be helpful. Studies of canagliflozin in a fixed-dose combination with phentermine are underway and due to be completed this year.

All of this activity reflects a recognition that reversing the growing impact of obesity on American health will not be possible if we limit our efforts to treating the diabetes, cancer, heart, and liver disease that results. More options and more evidence-based medical care for obesity itself will be critical.

Slowly, but surely, the innovation is coming.

Click here to read more about the studies of Saxenda presented at AACE and here to read more about the study in NASH. Click here for the NASH study abstract and here for the abstracts from the AACE meeting, including all five of the Saxenda studies. Click here for information on the study of canagliflozin/phentermine from

Insulin Vial Production in Hillerød, Denmark; photograph courtesy of Novo Nordisk A/S

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