Weight-loss jabs could become the ‘new statin’ for heart treatment after US regulators approve the drug

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Blockbuster weight-loss jab Wegovy could become ‘the new statin’ after regulators in the US approved it as a treatment for heart disease.

It follows the results of a major trial which found the drug, known as semaglutide, could slash the risk of a heart attack or stroke in people with obesity by around 20 per cent.

Around 50,000 people in the UK who are obese or have at least one other weight-related problem – which includes heart issues – are already eligible to get Wegovy on the NHS and will be getting those benefits.

But thousands more with heart disease who may be overweight but not obese could potentially get access to it in future after the company behind the drug, Novo Nordisk, applied to UK regulator the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for a similar update.

Obesity expert Prof Naveed Sattar, at the University of Glasgow, told The Mail on Sunday that ‘cardiologists are now starting to take serious note’ of semaglutide as a treatment for cardiovascular disease. 

Weight-loss jab Wegovy could slash the risk of a heart attack or stroke in people with obesity by around 20 per cent, a major trial found

And Professor David Strain at the University of Exeter said that, pending further research, it could eventually be used like statins, which are given to around eight million adults in the UK to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Prof Strain said: ‘Statins were initially just for people with very high cholesterol, then it was people with risk factors.

‘Now the evidence says it doesn’t matter what your cholesterol is – you will benefit from a statin once you reach a certain age.

‘I could see that happening in the future for semaglutide.’

The drug works by suppressing the appetite and boosting insulin production

The drug works by suppressing the appetite and boosting insulin production

The drug – which is also used to treat type 2 diabetes under the brand name Ozempic – works by suppressing the appetite and boosting the production of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. 

But Prof Strain says mounting evidence suggests it also has a direct impact on the heart which is not just linked to the beneficial effect of losing weight – though exactly how it helps the heart is still unknown.

‘I’m absolutely convinced it’s not just obesity reduction that has this effect,’ he says. ‘Weight-loss surgery can cause similar weight loss but you don’t see the benefits on cardiovascular risk as quickly.’

A Novo Nordisk spokesman said a decision by the MHRA was expected later this year.

GlasgowNHS

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