Gee Whizzy New Drugs for Weight Loss or Obesity

The King of Gee WhizThe drug development pipeline is filling up with new new drugs for weight loss or obesity. On Thursday, Novo Nordisk caused the hearts of investors to flutter when it presented topline results on an oral medicine that might be more effective than semaglutide. The value of the company’s stock jumped by 13%.

Just a week earlier, Viking Therapeutics stock price doubled when the company announced topline results from a 13-week phase 2 study with VK2735. The cause for excitement was weight loss that seems to be more rapid than was seen with semaglutide or tirzepatide.

These two new drugs are solid reminders that the pipeline of new options for treating obesity is filling up.


The Novo Nordisk drug causing excitement is called amycretin. This is a dual agonist drug that stimulates both GLP-1 and amylin receptors. In contrast, semaglutide stimulates only GLP-1, while tirzepatide acts on GLP-1 and GIP receptors. The other thing that is different about amycretin is that it comes in an oral form, as well as an injection. The results causing that big stir were with daily oral doses of amycretin.

As with VK2735, results with amycretin showed impressive weight loss – 13% – in a short time, just 12 weeks. These results led CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen to suggest that this drug “could develop into a best-in-class medicine.” Remember, though, this is an early reading. Those impressive results came from a phase 1 study.

VK2735: A GLP-1 and GIP Agonist

Results with VK2735 came from a more advanced, phase 2 study of the drug. In this 13-week study, the top dose of 15 mg injected weekly produced weight loss of 15%. Remember that it is tough to compare across different studies. But with that caveat, these results suggest that this GLP-1/GIP dual agonist might be a very effective competitor to the other drug with this mode of action – tirzepatide.

Fast Weight Loss Is Not the Real Point

It would be a mistake to think that the excitement for these two drugs is really all about fast weight loss. While it is true that they produced impressive weight loss in just three months, the real reason this is noteworthy is that it suggests longer term efficacy might be even more impressive. But to know for sure, we have to wait for results from studies that document outcomes after a year or more.

But perhaps the most important thing to know is that weight loss, though very helpful, is not the real point. The real point is treating the metabolic disease of obesity and the health gains it produces. There is no better statement of this than the new indication of semaglutide to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths.

This is the future of obesity care – ever more and better long-term gains in health.

Click here, here, and here for more on amycretin, here, here, and here for more on VK2735. For more on the future of obesity care, click here, here, and here.

The King of Gee Whiz, illustration by Oscar Cesare / Wikimedia Commons

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March 13, 2024

One Response to “Gee Whizzy New Drugs for Weight Loss or Obesity”

  1. March 13, 2024 at 7:12 am, Michael Jones said:

    I agree Ted. I believe we need to get away from calling these “weight loss“ drugs, as I believe it simply continues to reinforce an outmoded way of thinking. Calling the anti-obesity medications “weight loss, drugs“, is sort of like, calling an antibiotic to treat pneumonia a “cough medicine“.