Explainer: What other health conditions are weight loss drugs being tested for?

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Eli Lilly’s blockbuster diabetes drug Mounjaro and weight-loss therapy Zepbound, as well as Novo Nordisk’s rival medicines Ozempic and Wegovy are being studied to see whether they can improve health in other ways. Zepbound helped resolve moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea in up to 52 percent of patients in two late-stage trials, Lilly said on Friday.

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Below are other conditions obesity treatments are being tested against:

Alcohol Addiction

A study by the University of Copenhagen’s Psychiatric Centre Rigshospitalet is investigating whether semaglutide, sold as Novo’s Wegovy and Ozempic, can help reduce alcohol intake in 108 patients diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and obesity.

Alzheimer’s disease

Novo Nordisk has begun a trial testing semaglutide in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which will enroll 1,840 patients, could reach primary completion as early as 2025.

Cardiovascular disease

Eli Lilly is testing tirzepatide, sold as Mounjaro and Zepbound, for patients with heart failure and obesity. Lilly plans to enroll about 700 people in the study, which is expected to be completed by July 2024.

Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong are testing Novo’s semaglutide along with mechanical removal of clots in patients with strokes caused by the blockage of large blood vessels to the brain. The approach will be compared with standard therapy. The mid-stage study aims to recruit about 140 patients.

Chronic kidney disease

Novo’s Ozempic delayed the progression of chronic kidney disease in diabetes patients, cutting the risk of death from that and major cardiac events by 24 percent. That was, however, below investor expectations.

Lilly’s tirzepatide is being evaluated in a mid-stage study of chronic kidney disease in patients with obesity. Lilly plans to enroll up to 140 participants.

Liver disease

Novo is testing semaglutide in a late-stage trial of patients with a common type of fatty liver disease called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The study is expected to enroll about 1,200 patients.

Lilly’s tirzepatide helped up to 74 percent of patients achieve absence of the disease with no worsening of liver scarring at 52 weeks, compared with 13 percent of patients on placebo, in a mid-stage trial for the fatty liver disease formerly known as NASH and now called metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis, or MASH.

Neurological disorders

Researchers at the Danish Headache Center are testing semaglutide along with a very low calorie diet as a treatment for new-onset idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a condition associated with obesity in which blood pressure inside the head rises. The study aims to recruit about 50 patients and wrap up as early as 2025.

Sleep apnea

Zepbound helped resolve moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea in up to 52 percent of patients in two late-stage trials, which included people who use respiratory devices that help keep their airways open while they sleep, as well as people who do not use such devices.

Read more:

India’s Biocon seeks partner to test generic Wegovy, Ozempic in China

Novo Nordisk CEO to testify in US Senate hearing on high cost of Ozempic, Wegovy

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