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FDA Approval Adds New Weapon in the Fight Against Obesity

June 14, 2021

“Game-changer” is the best way to describe the new medication approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for weight management, according to a Hartford HealthCare expert. Dr. Devika Umashanker, system Medical Director of Medical Weight Loss with Hartford HealthCare, said she and colleagues have been prescribing a lower-dose version of a similar medication, Ozempic, as dual therapy for patients with Type 2 diabetes and obesity, with great success. She anticipates even more positive outcomes for people struggling with obesity with the new option that has a higher dosage option. Dr. Devika Umashanker[/caption] “This will help us reach a broader range of the patient population, including people who can’t take other FDA-approved weight loss medications because of cardiac conditions,” she explained. The weight loss results seen in patients using Wegovy, the medication approved last week by the FDA, are second only to weight loss surgery, Dr. Umashanker said. The two most popular types of surgery — gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy — yield an average weight loss of 30 to 35 percent of total weight and 20 to 25 percent of total weight, respectively. Anti-obesity medications, in general, have shown to yield 5 to 10 percent weight loss. Wegovy, on the other hand, has demonstrated an average weight loss of 12 percent and has yielded even higher results — up to 19 percent — for some patients. “We will absolutely consider giving this medication, which is a higher dose than what we give now, once insurance companies approve it for coverage,” she said. “These medications are perfect for people who don’t want weight loss surgery, or those who have had the surgery and have regained some weight.” After weight loss surgery, she explained, the body creates a new “set point” at which it settles on the scale. Sometimes, that means the patient regains some weight or hit a weight plateau. Although FDA-approved weight loss medications have not been studied in clinical trials for post-operative weight regain or weight plateau, several papers have looked at the utilization of anti-obesity medications, retrospectively, and found good response, she noted. Wegovy is the first medication approved by the FDA for obesity since 2014. The injectable drug is approved for people with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30, or those with a BMI of at least 27 with at least one weight-related chronic medical condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. For more information on medical weight loss, click here.