Trial shows Wegovy can ease heart failure symptoms

Dive Brief:

  • Novo Nordisk’s weight loss drug Wegovy helped people with obesity, diabetes and heart failure have fewer cardiovascular symptoms like fatigue and breathlessness, according to clinical trial results detailed Saturday at the annual American College of Cardiology conference in Atlanta.
  • The findings follow another trial Novo conducted in people with obesity and heart failure but not diabetes. That study similarly found that weight loss spurred by Wegovy helped improve symptoms.
  • Together, the data may help Novo build a case for expanding Wegovy’s use with regulators and insurers, as well as fend off competition from Eli Lilly’s rival drug Zepbound. Lilly’s drug has shown it can help people lose weight, but hasn’t yet been proven to protect heart health.

Dive Insight:

People with obesity often develop diabetes and heart failure, a condition where the heart can’t pump as much blood as it should, if their weight gain can’t be reversed. Both diabetes and heart failure can also require expensive and long-term drug treatments, as well as result in costly hospital stays and other medical interventions.

To demonstrate weight loss with Wegovy could help, Novo enrolled 616 people and randomized them to take a weekly Wegovy shot or a placebo. Researchers evaluated two primary measures: the change in participants’ score on a heart failure symptoms questionnaire, and weight loss. Both were assessed over one year.

Among people who got Wegovy, the score on the 100-point symptomatic questionnaire fell an average of 14 points, significantly more than the average decline of six points for the people on placebo. People who received Wegovy on average lost 10% of their body weight, compared with 3% for those who got placebo. The difference was statistically significant.

Trial researchers also evaluated the change in how far trial participants could walk in six minutes. The people treated with Wegovy improved by 13 meters, while those given placebo declined by two meters.

In addition, trial researchers developed a composite score of all the main measures plus death and heart failure complications. Wegovy-treated participants scored significantly better on the composite score, but researchers said the difference was mostly driven by improvements in the score on the symptomatic questionnaire.

Detailed results of the study also were published Saturday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

While Wegovy has a head start over Zepbound, Eli Lilly could have a competitive advantage because it reported greater weight loss in clinical trials of its drug than Novo did with Wegovy. The two drugs have never been compared in a head-to-head trial, however.

Still, Novo has shored up its market position. The company has shown that weight loss with Wegovy leads to significantly fewer cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes, resulting in an expanded Food and Drug Administration approval as well as broader Medicare coverage. Now it has proved Wegocy can benefit heart failure patients, too.

Lilly has trials underway in heart failure patients and in cardiovascular outcomes. Data may be available later this year.

The in-demand drugs are not cheap, at least at the list price set by their makers before rebates and other discounts are factored in. Wegovy costs about $16,000 a year.

This post has been syndicated from a third-party source. View the original article here.

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