FDA approves diabetes drug that also helps with weight loss

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TRENTON, N.J. — U.S. regulators Tuesday 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 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 one big company-funded study, Ozempic, on average, reduced long-term blood sugar levels at least two and a half 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 4 pounds.

The 1,200 study participants were also 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.