10 weight loss drug updates


Prescription weight loss medications, including Ozempic, stand to impact every facet of healthcare, including orthopedics. 

Here are 10 updates to know on Ozempic and other GLP-1 drugs in healthcare: 

1. Two studies presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeon's 2024 conference examined the impact that the drug semaglutide, which is sold as Ozempic to treat Type 2 diabetes and as Wegovy for weight loss, could have on patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty. They found that patients who take semaglutide at the time of a total hip replacement experience similar postoperative outcomes to those who do not take the drug.

2. The American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology published new guidelines for treating patients using glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists such as Ozempic, Wegovy, Saxenda or Zepbound.

3. Novo Nordisk's latest work toward development of semaglutide drugs in pill form has shown results that are even better than Wegovy when it comes to shedding weight.

4. Self-insured employers nationwide are making moves to end or limit coverage for employees prescribed weight loss medications, including major health systems. Here are six health systems that have recently ended or limited coverage for weight loss drugs. 

5. Hospital transplant departments have strict cutoffs for patients with higher body mass indexes because of the increased risk of complications, but GLP-1s such as Ozempic and Wegovy are helping more patients be eligible for surgery. Potential transplant donors and diabetic patients who otherwise would not be able to undergo surgery because of their BMI are now quickly dropping weight. 

6. Counterfeit versions of Ozempic are becoming more of a concern, both for its manufacturer and to global authorities. Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, Novo Nordisk's CEO, said the company is currently working alongside authorities in multiple countries to navigate the issue.

7. On March 8, Novo Nordisk's Wegovy was approved to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke in adults who have cardiovascular disease and are either obese or overweight. It is the first weight loss drug to be indicated for serious heart problems in obese and overweight adults. 

8.  Some women planning a pregnancy are turning to GLP-1s to lose weight, The New York Times reported. Some research suggests excess weight can make it more difficult to become pregnant and can increase the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications. Data on these medications and pregnancy is sparse, however, so physicians recommend women stop taking the drugs two months before trying to conceive. 

9. In a clinical trial of more than 3,500 Type 2 diabetes patients, Ozempic reduced the risk of kidney disease-related events by 24%. 

10. There's no consensus yet on how long — or if — patients can keep the weight off after quitting GLP-1s. The injections cost about $1,000 for a four-week supply, though, so some patients are turning to older medications or switching to other GLP-1s.

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