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Amgen's New Obesity Drug Shows Encouraging Long-Term Results

diabetes metabolic disorders obesity sustained weight loss Apr 29, 2023

Summary: Antidiabetic medications like Ozempic are quite good for managing obesity. However, these antidiabetic drugs that are now approved for weight loss have one significant downside. On the discontinuation of the therapy, most patients report considerable weight regains. However, now one of the experimental drugs for obesity management by Amgen offers great hope. It is a potent weight loss drug and has encouraging long-term results.

The last couple of decades has been really exciting when it comes to treating obesity with the help of medications. Moreover, now doctors finally realize that obesity must be treated as an ailment instead of waiting for things to worsen and then managing obesity-related disorders.

In the US, many adults live with diabetes, hypertension, and other metabolic disorders. However, what is worrisome is that 70% of the US population is overweight, and more than half of them are living with significant obesity.

For a long, researchers and the pharma industry did not focus much on obesity management. However, things have now changed. Many professional bodies in the US have started seeing obesity as a disease and not merely a risk factor.

Till now, most drugs used to manage obesity have been repurposed drugs. Thus, doctors used anti-depressants to suppress appetite, or more commonly, they used antidiabetic drugs to control obesity. 

For decades off-label use of antidiabetic drugs for managing diabetes has been common due to their excellent safety profile and efficacy. However, the trend has changed in recent years. Now, many anti-diabetes drugs have been legally approved for managing obesity.

Thus, some of the most potent drugs to treat diabetes are medications like semaglutide/Ozempic. However, this approach of repurposing antidiabetic drugs has certain drawbacks. After all, these drugs were not originally intended to treat obesity. Instead, they were primarily approved for managing diabetes, and weight loss is just their secondary action.

However, now things are changing fast. The Pharma industry knows what drugs work well. For example, they know that incretin mimetics like GLP-1 agonists like semaglutide are excellent for weight loss. They also know that drugs with broader action incretin-agonist action, like those acting on GLP-1 and GIP receptors, work even better.

Researchers know that targeting gut hormones like incretins makes sense, as they have an excellent impact on metabolic profile, are safe, and lead to weight loss in quite a natural way. For example, Incretin memetics slows down gastric emptying, improves insulin secretion, acts on the brain and thus lower appetite, and so on. Therefore, they work in multiple ways, helping obese individuals to lose 10% or even 20% of body weight in six to twelve months.

But as we already mentioned, that industry is now getting smart. Since they know what works for obesity and they know about the downsides of using anti-diabetes drugs for managing obesity, they are now focusing on introducing medicines that are better for obesity management than treating diabetes.

For example, some downsides of incretin mimetics when used for weight loss are gastrointestinal side effects in most cases. Even worse is weight gain on the discontinuation of the therapy. However, it now appears that a new anti-obesity drug from Amgen might be able to overcome these downsides of existing medications.

This new drug is similar to tirzepatide but is excellent for weight loss. More importantly, this new experimental drug seems to help maintain weight loss for a long. Thus, in the study, this experimental drug from Amgen, simply called AMG133, caused 14.5% weight loss in obese people in just 12 weeks. These results are much better than any other existing weight loss drugs.

Not only that, researchers noticed that on discontinuation of the therapy, there was only a small regain in body weight. Thus, after 150 days of discontinuation of the therapy, participants still have 11.2% lower body weight than before the therapy. Therefore, it is quite suitable for sustained weight loss.

This drug has already cleared phase 2 studies, and the results are highly encouraging. If all goes well, it may soon clear the final phase 3 studies and be launched in the market in the coming years.

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