“Game-changing” obesity drug over-promising?

SUMMARY: Wegovy is selling so well that it’s hard to get at pharmacies. It’s being positioned as an anti-obesity drug, but one study by Novo Nordisk has shown that people who stop taking Wegovy after a few months tend to regain much of their lost weight within a year. In addition, people who lost weight on Wegovy in clinical trials had nutritional counseling and had to stay on a strict diet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 42 percent of American adults are obese. Patients want quick fixes, and the idea of losing some weight because of a new drug is enticing to them. However, some researchers and advocates have been less enthused, arguing that obesity shouldn’t be medicalized as a disease and that these drugs could pose unknown long-term risks, including unhealthy weight loss and gain cycles. One study by Novo Nordisk has shown that people who stop taking Wegovy after a few months tend to regain much of their lost weight within a year.

Novo Nordisk has admitted that it would not be able to keep up, adding that it would likely take until early 2022 for the supply to stabilize and that some patients “are experiencing an approximate one month or longer delay in filling prescriptions for Wegovy.”

Public payers such as Medicare will not cover the drug, due to a existing rule concerning weight loss treatments, and only a few private insurers have explicitly said that they will cover it. In response, the company has been providing six-month waivers to some insured patients that will cap the drug’s out-of-pocket costs at $25 a month, though the long-term picture of coverage is still in flux.

What you won’t find on the Wegovy website is that “the medication is intended to supplement a habit of increased physical activity as well as a reduced-calorie diet; Wegovy alone isn’t likely to have the intended outcome. Of weight loss.”

95% of diets fail and most will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years
(Source: Statistics on Weight Discrimination: A Waste of Talent, The Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, Retrieved July 18, 2011, from (http://www.cswd.org/index.html))

The “obesity industry” (commercial weight-loss programs, weight-loss drug manufacturers, and bariatric surgery centers) will likely top $315 billion this year. Nearly 3% of the overall U.S. economy. The reasons are complex

Many factors contribute to obesity. “Obesity is multifactorial, meaning many factors are involved and go from genetics, lifestyle, mental health issues (such as trauma) to medication side effects,” says Dr. Viana, Clinical Director Yale Medicine Metabolic Health & Weight Loss Program.

The NIH says the #1 cause of obesity is “by overeating and moving too little…. Suppose you consume high energy, particularly fat and sugars, but do not burn off the energy through exercise and physical activity. In that case, much of the surplus energy will be stored by the body as fat.”

The worst thing any marketer can do is over-promise and under-deliver. It seems that, right now, Novo is over-promising the miracle of losing weight while they eat cheeseburgers. The FDA should have required that Novo mention the requirement of diet and exercise when taking the drug.