Weight-loss drugs have become a hot topic as public health authorities and pharmaceutical companies seek solutions to the growing global obesity epidemic.
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A oral drug done by Pfizer causes similar weight loss and works faster than its rival Novo NordiskOzempic, the blockbuster injection of Ozempic, according to the results of a phase two clinical trial published on Monday.
The results were presented at a medical conference late last year. But JAMA Network only now is publishing the full peer-reviewed study.
Pfizer’s trial followed 411 adults with type 2 diabetes who took the company’s pill, danugliprontwice a day or a placebo.
Patients who took a 120-milligram version of danuglipron lost about 10 pounds over 16 weeks, according to the study.
That compares to a phase three clinical trial of Ozempic, which found adults who took a 1-milligram version of the injection lost about 9.9 pounds on average over 30 weeks. Patients take this vaccine once a week.
The results suggest that danuglipron may be as effective for weight gain as Ozempic over a shorter period of time.
Pfizer’s drug could also offer benefit as an oral treatment option rather than frequent injection.
Danuglipron and Ozempic are both part of a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 antagonists.
They mimic a hormone produced in the gut called GLP-1, which signals to the brain when a person is full.
Medications can also help people manage type 2 diabetes because they promote the release of insulin from the pancreas, which lowers blood sugar.
New York-based Pfizer is the latest pharmaceutical company to jump into the blockbuster weight-loss drug market.
Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy have been catapulted to national prominence in recent years for being weight loss “miracles.”
Hollywood celebrities, social media influencers and billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk reportedly used popular injections to get rid of unwanted weight.
But the experts say drugs can still perpetuate a dangerous diet culture that romanticizes weight loss and leanness.
Some patients who stop taking the drugs also complain of weight gain that is difficult to control.
More than 2 in 5 adults are obese, according to the National Institutes of Health. About 1 in 11 adults suffer from severe obesity.