Slow Down

Obesity Innovation: Why So Slow?

Growth in Prescribing of New Obesity and Diabetes MedicationsA study published today in Obesity shows just how slow the adoption of obesity innovation is in clinical care. Catherine Thomas and colleagues analyzed prescribing data for new SGLT2 diabetes treatments introduced in 2013. They compared it to data for new obesity treatments that were introduced beginning in late 2012.

Many alternatives were already available to treat type 2 diabetes. Few were available for obesity. And prevalence of obesity is much higher than the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Nonetheless, new SGLT2 diabetes medications were adopted at an exponentially faster rate that the new obesity medications.

In a companion commentary, Ted Kyle and Fatima Cody Stanford observed:

The investigators provide a benchmark that suggests systematic barriers may be at work to limit the adoption of new pharmacotherapies in the treatment of obesity.

The unmet need for better obesity care is considerable. Meeting that need will require more work to quantify the outcomes that current therapies can deliver in real world settings and a deeper understanding of the most important barriers to their adoption.

Charles Billington, a spokesperson for The Obesity Society and Director of Medical Weight Management at the University of Minnesota, laments the missed opportunity for better patient care, saying:

Obesity is a serious disease that is not getting serious treatment. We are missing the opportunity among patients with serious obesity-related illness to provide the full range of proven, safe and effective therapies. It’s time to start treating people with obesity as we would others with chronic diseases – with compassion and access to evidence-based care in a clinical setting.

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

Click here for the study by Thomas et al and here for the commentary by Kyle and Stanford.

Slow Down, photograph © Aftab Uzzaman / flickr

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August 29, 2016

One Response to “Obesity Innovation: Why So Slow?”

  1. August 30, 2016 at 3:38 pm, Allen Browne said:

    Bias and stigma!

    Berle has it right – we have to build a door. Education is a good place to start.