There are two new drugs forObesity treatment They are on their way to becoming available in the next few years and offer benefits beyond those of the high potency drugs now on the market.
The first, called orforglipron, is easier to use and produce, and may be cheaper than current treatments. The second type, retatrutide, has an unprecedented level of efficacy and could raise the bar for pharmacological obesity treatment.
In this context, endocrinologist Daniel Drucker at the University of Toronto in Canada, who was not involved in the recent research on either drug, confirmed that both constitute a scientific breakthrough, according to the scientific “Nature” website.
Results of phase 2 clinical trials for both drugs were announced at a meeting of the American Diabetes Association this month and in the New England Journal of Medicine. Phase 2 trials provide data on drug efficacy and optimal dose in a small group of participants.
Work on appetite
Both mimic the hormones produced by the lining of the intestines in response to certain nutrients. These hormones help slow the passage of food through the digestive system and reduce appetite by acting on receptors in the brain, both effects that reduce people’s desire to eat and help them lose weight.
The drugs are part of a class called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. Similar drugs were first created to combat diabetes, with weight loss as a welcome side benefit.
And in the past five years or so, two GLP-1 receptor agonists that lead to dramatic weight loss have hit the market, with great fanfare.
One drug, tirzepatide (marketed as Mounjaro), has been approved by US regulators only to treat diabetes.
The other approved drug, semaglutide, is sold under two brand names: Ozempic, a treatment for diabetes, and Wegovy, an obesity treatment.
And both tirzepatide and semaglutide helped people with obesity gain the life-saving benefits of losing weight, such as lower blood sugar and lower blood pressure.
Wegovy and Mounjaro both require weekly injections, which many people find unpleasant. Moreover, both drugs belong to a group of molecules called peptides, which are expensive and labor-intensive to produce.
Wegovy and Mounjaro list prices at more than $1,000 a month, and shortages of supplies have sometimes made it difficult to find medicines.
With that said, Orforglipron is a non-peptide molecule that is easy to produce and package in a pill. Pricing for the drug has yet to be determined, but it’s likely to be much cheaper than current weight-management drugs, says internal medicine physician Shaun Wharton at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.
While orforglipron can achieve weight control, retatrutide can provide an unprecedented level of weight loss.
At the highest dose used in the trial, participants lost an average of 24.2% of their body weight over the course of 11 months of treatment.
Currently approved medications tend to lead to weight loss of about 15-20% over a similar period of time.
Neuroscientist Amber Alhadeff at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was not involved in either study, said Retatrutide “will likely reset our expectations of what we consider to be an effective drug for obesity.”
Furthermore, all participants in the retatrutide study who received the higher doses lost at least 5% of their body weight.
By contrast, currently approved medications work in about 90% of people who take them.
Obesity specialist Beverly Chang at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City said that Retatrutide interacts with three receptors that determine appetite.
This is probably why it works, Wegovy interacts with one receptor and Mounjaro interacts with two.
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