Weight-loss drugs reduce kidney complication risks: Study

The active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy may help reduce the risk of kidney failure in those with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers across 28 countries randomly assigned patients with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease to receive a weekly injection of 1 milligram of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, or a placebo. Roughly 3,500 patients participated in the study, with half receiving semaglutide and the other half a placebo.

The study, which began in 2019, was funded by Novo Nordisk, which manufactures semaglutide.

In follow-ups among participants, the risk of a kidney disease events was found to be 24 percent lower in the semaglutide group than the placebo group.

“Semaglutide reduced the risk of clinically important kidney outcomes and death from cardiovascular causes in patients with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease,” researchers concluded.

Novo Nordisk announced in October it was halting its trial on kidney outcomes early due to already meeting “certain pre-specified criteria.”

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, with 1 in 3 diabetics having the condition. About 12 percent of the U.S. population is estimated to have diabetes.

In the U.S., semaglutide is approved for treating Type 2 diabetes and obesity and for reducing the risk of major cardiovascular events. The latter is the most recent, with federal regulators granting the approval based on the results of a multinational study also funded by Novo Nordisk earlier this year.

Other GLP-1 agonists similar to Ozempic are similarly being tested to see if they may be able to treat conditions other than diabetes and obesity. Tirzepatide, sold under the name Mounjaro by Eli Lilly, is currently being studied for any potential benefits in treating chronic kidney disease in patients with obesity with or without Type 2 diabetes.

Previous studies have indicated GLP-1 agonists may be able to help with other conditions like addiction and reducing the risk of dementia.

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