Dorigen of Britain Waiting for the Return of Her Husband

OW2018: Real Innovation in Obesity Drugs at Last?

ObesityWeek 2018 comes just as we are starting to see serious innovation in obesity drugs at long last. After a few flashy launches that went nowhere, we’re seeing more solid progress from Novo Nordisk and even Eisai. Obesity medicine physicians are bringing obesity meds into comprehensive care for obesity. And some exciting new drugs are appearing on the horizon.

And at OW2018, we expect to get a good preview of a pretty bright future for obesity drug therapy.

GLP-1 Agonists and Beyond

Many years of disappointing drugs for obesity came before Novo Nordisk introduced their GLP-1 – Saxenda. Some never made it to market. Some came in a flash and fizzled out. But Saxenda, generically known as liraglutide 3 mg, broke that pattern.

Novo Nordisk just released released results for the third quarter and Saxenda sales are on track to exceed half a billion dollars this year. It’s growing briskly, up 53% versus last year. But even more encouraging is what’s on the way. Novo now has six new obesity drugs in clinical development. The one that’s farthest along is semaglutide. It’s another GLP-1 agonist that may bring efficacy as much as 50% better than current obesity drugs.

A great place to get perspective on this and other new obesity drugs will be at a keynote lecture by Daniel Drucker on Thursday. He will present the science behind GLP-1 agonists like liraglutide. In addition, Donna Ryan will present a key lecture on new directions for obesity drugs on Tuesday. Poster sessions (here and here) and late-breaking oral presentations will offer new research on the subject. An emerging therapies forum on Monday will provide further insight..

Integrating Meds into Complete Obesity Care

But maybe a different set of presentations at ObesityWeek will tell us the most about the future of obesity meds. These are the sessions that deal with integrating obesity meds into a model of comprehensive obesity care.

For example, ASMBS and ABOM are sponsoring a symposium on integrating obesity medicine physicians into bariatric surgery programs. This is the future. Treating obesity is not one and done. It’s all about providing chronic care for a chronic disease. Comprehensive care beats stepped care every time.

Along those lines, Scott Monte will present on using obesity meds to prevent weight regain after surgery.  Nestor Sainz Rueda et al will also present research on the subject in the late breaking poster session on pharmacotherapy.

Indeed it does seem that we’re on the verge of some real innovation in obesity drugs. Some of that innovation is in pharmacology. But the innovations in delivering clinical care are every bit as important. Perhaps in the end, those innovations will be the most important.

Dorigen of Britain Waiting for the Return of Her Husband, painting by Edward Burne-Jones / WikiArt

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November 10, 2018

4 Responses to “OW2018: Real Innovation in Obesity Drugs at Last?”

  1. November 11, 2018 at 3:21 pm, Kristal Hartman said:

    Hi Ted! Exciting future for obesity medications indeed! I am thrilled to see Obesity Week include training in the innovation and utilization of these medications in clinical practice as well! This is exactly what patients need! What I hope that OW2018 attends don’t forget and decide to add their voice to, is the fight for these medications to be COVERED by employers and therefore insurance. Patients like myself can effectively drool over medications that help us lose weight and maintain weight loss like kids at the window of a candy store but it means nothing if we don’t get access to them. Keep up the fight for obesity medication coverage OW2018 attendees! Patients battling this chronic disease deserve access to medications just like anyone else battling any other chronic disease!

  2. November 11, 2018 at 5:36 pm, Michael said:

    Thanks Ted. Given that patient treatment tends to start by engaging with a non-surgical team and that the stigma of bariatrics prevents many people from accessing surgical teams; wouldn’t it be better for patients if a surgeon joined a physician’s team – rather than the other way around?

    • November 11, 2018 at 10:17 pm, Ted said:

      You’re asking an important question, Michael. Comprehensive cancer care teams might offer some insights for finding answers. They’ve been down this road before.

  3. November 19, 2018 at 6:09 pm, Paul Ernsberger said:

    Antidiabetic agents that promote weight loss are preferable to weight loss drugs that are presumed to benefit comorbidities but may introduce new risks. Amphetamines such as phentermine are at the top of the list for poor risk to benefit ratios. Antidiabetic agents are much more likely to have benefits that exceed risks, and recent clinical trials support this notion.