Wegovy weight loss drug has long-term effects on diabetes, studies show
Weight-loss jabs can help people with type two diabetes control their blood sugar in the long-term, a study has found.
Semaglutide, sold under the brand names Wegovy, Ozempic and Rybelsus, has been hailed as a potential “game changer” in tackling obesity, but can also “significantly” improve blood sugar control and weight loss in diabetics for up to three years, researchers said.
Researchers said the effectiveness of a once-weekly dose of semaglutide to treat type two diabetes has been “demonstrated in randomised controlled trials”, but long-term data has “been lacking”.
According to Diabetes UK, 4.3m in the UK are living with diagnosed diabetes, about 90 per cent of which are type two. According to NHS England, the health service spends about £1bn a year treating the condition, which is caused when the body has problems producing insulin.
A team from Maccabi Health Services retrospectively analysed data on the use of semaglutide in 200,000 patients from the Maccabi diabetes registry.
They found 23,442 eligible patients who used at least one prescription for semaglutide jabs between August 2019 and December 2022 and had one blood sugar control measurement (HbA1c) 12 months before and six months after starting treatment.
Before being prescribed semaglutide, 30 per cent of patients were treated with insulin and 31 per cent were treated with another drug from the weight-loss jab family, known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RA).
Six months after starting on semaglutide, patients lowered their HbA1c by an average of 0.77 per cent (from 7.6 per cent to 6.8 per cent) and reduced their body weight by an average of 4.7kg (from 94.1kg to 89.7kg).
The reduction in weight and blood sugar was more pronounced in those who had never taken semaglutide.
A follow-up after two years found HbA1c and body weight fell by an average of 0.76 per cent and 6.0kg respectively, while at three years they were down by 0.43 per cent and 5.8kg.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommends the use of Ozempic to manage type two diabetes in England.
It also approved the use of Wegovy to aid weight-loss on the NHS in England earlier this year, with its guidance recommending it should be used for a maximum of two years.