Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk said Tuesday that results from a recent drug trial demonstrated that its highly sought weight loss drug Wegovy also reduces the risk of heart disease.
Novo said the results from the late-stage drug trial showed patients taking the weekly injection of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Wegovy, had a 20% lower risk of heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease compared to those taking a placebo.
The company’s stock jumped Tuesday after the results beat analyst expectations. Investors and analysts previously projected that the drug would reduce the risk of heart disease by 15%-17%, according to Reuters.
The goal of the company’s large drug trial, which involved over 17,600 adults, was to assess whether Wegovy has a medical benefit and can reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events like strokes or heart attacks in addition to helping people lose weight.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Wegovy in 2021 for chronic weight management in adults who are obese or overweight and have at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally with an estimated 17.9 million people dying from such diseases in 2019. Of those deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke, according to WHO.
“People living with obesity have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease but, to date, there are no approved weight management medications proven to deliver effective weight management while also reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death,” Martin Holst Lange, executive vice president for development at Novo Nordisk, said in a statement.
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The company expects to file for regulatory approvals of a label indication expansion for Wegovy in the U.S. and the European Union this year. Details from the drug trial will be presented at a scientific conference later this year, according to Novo.
Novo also manufactures Ozempic, which is the same medication as Wegovy but has different dosages and FDA-approved intended uses.
Ozempic was approved by federal health officials in 2017 and marketed for medical use in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes “with weight loss as a secondary effect of the drug’s effects and mechanism of action.”
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Weogvy and Ozempic surged in popularity after high-profile figures touted their weight loss effects. The demand surged so much that it prompted a temporary shortage.