New diabetes drug can help obese people lose weight – Study

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Tirzepatide mimics two hormones that make you feel full after eating. Patients – without diabetes – who received the highest dose in a study lost on average 21 percent of their weight, compared with just three percent for a group given a placebo.

The results are now being assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for treatment of type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity.

Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, director of the Medical Research Council Metabolic Diseases Unit at the University of Cambridge, said: “The results of this trial are very impressive.

“Treatment of people with obesity with a weekly injection of tirzepatide produced weight loss similar to that seen with weightloss surgery.

“Blood tests showed improvements in all the markers of metabolic and cardiovascular health.

“Side effects were mild to moderate…some nausea and vomiting. These adverse effects reduced in severity over the time of the trial.” The international trial involved more than 2,500 patients with a BMI of 30 or more – in the obese range – or 27 or more plus at least one weight-related health problem, excluding diabetes.

The average weight at the start was 104.8kg with a BMI of 38. All had diet and exercise advice and were injected weekly with a 5mg, 10mg or 15mg dose of tirzepatide, or a placebo, for 72 weeks. The participants in each group lost an average of 15, 20, 21 and three percent, respectively, of their body weight.

Study leader Dr Ania Jastreboff, of Yale University, said: “We should treat obesity as we treat any chronic disease – with effective and safe approaches which target underlying disease mechanisms – tirzepatide may be doing just that.”

As well as type 2 diabetes, researchers hope it could help tackle the obesity crisis too.

The drug is similar to semaglutide, which was approved for use on the NHS for patients with obesity in February. A semaglutide trial found those given the drug lost on average 12 percent more of their body weight than those on a placebo.

Dr Simon Cork, a senior lecturer in physiology at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “These drugs are game-changing for the obesity field but they will only work for as long as the drug is being taken.

“Current guidance to Nice regarding semaglutide is to take the drug for a maximum of two years, after which it won’t be offered again.”

The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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