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Nova Seeks Approval for New Obesity Drug

Emma Gonzalez | December 25th, 2012

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Best Diet to Lose WeightDrug manufacturer Novo is betting that its diabetes drug liraglutide will be the next luxury weight loss treatment. Liraglutide already has FDA approval to treat type 2 diabetes, but the pharmaceutical company is looking to market its drug as a high-priced niche solution for obesity. Estimates state that nearly 100 million Americans are severely overweight or obese, so an effective weight loss drug could bring in billions in annual returns.

Nevertheless, doctors agree that the best way to lose weight is to combine exercise and a well-rounded diet, in tandem with potential use of an obesity drug such as liraglutide. Physician-guided programs, such as those available through The Center for Medical Weight Loss, tailor each weight loss solution to the individual, creating a customized plan that is both effective in the short- and long-term.

Diabetes drug to do double duty as obesity treatment

Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drug, which works by stimulating the body to release insulin when a person’s glucose levels spike too high. This is how the drug helps control type-2 diabetes, but also how it will allegedly work to stimulate weight loss. A clinical trial is currently underway for the injectable, which, if approved, will be marketed at a premium-price to treat serious obesity.

Experts question drug’s effectiveness

Though some industry experts question whether the diabetes medication will effectively combat obesity, the Denmark-based Novo Nordisk is convinced that it is a future blockbuster drug. And the market seems primed and ready: the FDA has recently approved sales of other obesity pills, including versions from Arena Pharmaceuticals and Vivus last summer. Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Novo’s Chief Science Officer, said “It’s positive. More physicians are now knowledgeable that pharmacotherapy can make a difference and the political establishment in the U.S. now knows that behavior change alone is not enough.”

Diet and exercise: still the best way to lose weight

Though approximately 100 million Americans are obese, Novo does not plan to market its drug to everyone. Instead, the company would target its drug to several million patients able to pay the premium price tag – netting Novo an expected $6 billion every year. But drugs have side effects. When used to treat diabetes, liraglutide (Victoza) can produce nausea. If this isn’t enough to deter patients, perhaps the threat of pancreatitis could; high dosages of liraglutide – such as those proposed to induce weight loss – are linked to this serious condition.

If approved, surely some would benefit from the obesity drug, but most might be better served by adopting a healthy weight loss plan. Diet may not be the answer to how to lose weight fast – although the pounds can melt away quickly – but cultivating a changed lifestyle will help preserve those results over the long-term. Physician-assisted programs, such as those at The Center for Medical Weight Loss, have produced thousands of weight loss success stories. The doctors at the Center work with your preferences and habits to create a customized plan to help you shed pounds and keep them off – for good!

To find a Center near you, enter your zip code in the box above. Your personal best diet to lose weight is just a visit away. Special offers are available for first-time visitors at select locations.