FDA approves once-a-week diabetes shot that also aids weight loss

SHARE FDA approves once-a-week diabetes shot that also aids weight loss
nvd31l3ww6n7nks20sk8pehx.jpg

This injection pen contains the new, long-acting diabetes drug Ozempic, approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday. Beside reducing blood sugar levels, it also helps people lose significant weight. | Novo Nordisk via AP

TRENTON, N.J. — Federal regulators have approved a new diabetes drug that reduces blood-sugar levels and also helps people lose significant weight.

Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk said the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved its once-a-week shot for people with Type 2 diabetes.

The drug, Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, works by stimulating the body’s own insulin production and reducing appetite.

In a big, company-funded study, Ozempic reduced long-term blood-sugar levels on average by at least 2 ½ times as much as a popular daily diabetes pill, Merck & Co.’s Januvia. It also helped study participants lose two to three times as much weight as those in the comparison group.

Over 56 weeks, patients who got a lower dose of Ozempic lost an average of 9.5 pounds, while those who got a higher dose lost 13.5 pounds.

The patients who took Januvia lost an average of four pounds.

The 1,200 study participants also were taking one or two standard diabetes medicines.

Novo Nordisk, a leader in diabetes care, has also been testing the drug separately for weight loss alone.

Many Type 2 diabetes patients are overweight or obese, and losing significant weight usually helps them reduce their blood sugar and better control their diabetes. Over time, too high sugar in the blood can damage multiple organs and weaken circulation.

The new drug comes in injector pens and costs about the same as similar weekly drugs: $676 for a four- to six-week supply without insurance.

Novo Nordisk already sells a similar once-a-day shot, Victoza.

Ozempic will compete with other popular once-a-week drugs in the same class, including Eli Lilly and Co.’s Trulicity and AstraZeneca PLC’s Bydureon, which don’t produce as much weight loss.

All carry warnings about possible serious side-effects, including kidney damage and inflammation of the pancreas. They also could be linked to thyroid cancer. So people taking all drugs in the class are being followed via a patient registry.

Januvia is in a different drug class.

The Latest
Two men were fatally shot Friday in their vehicles in separate shootings about three miles apart on the South Side.
The league’s collective-bargaining agreement with the players, signed in 2020 and effective through the 2027 season, doesn’t include charter flights
The man, 38, was driving in the 500 block of West 95th Street when someone fired a gun from the sidewalk.
The man, 62, was in a stopped vehicle about 11:09 p.m. in the 800 block of West 71st Street when he was shot in the head.
He was found at 5:17 a.m. Saturday in the 3900 block of West Fillmore Street with a gunshot wound to the chest.