New GLP-1 Drugs for Weight Loss: A Short-Term Fix?
Sub-heading: Patients who lose weight with GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy tend to regain weight once they stop taking the injections. Employers and startups see the drugs as short-term fixes, setting people up for failure.
Paragraph: GLP-1 drugs are injectable anti-obesity and diabetes medications that deliver stunning weight loss and improvements to patients’ health. However, the injections don’t work once people stop taking them. Large, rigorous clinical trials have found that patients regain two-thirds of the weight they had lost after one year without the drug. The drugs mimic glucagon-like peptide 1, a hormone our body produces naturally that helps control hunger and regulates blood sugar. The drugs override out-of-whack hunger cues, slow digestion, and change how our bodies convert food into energy.
– Tara Rothenhoefer lost 176 pounds on Mounjaro, but she worries about losing access to the drug once her manufacturer-issued coupons expire.
– Employers and startups such as Calibrate and Omada Health suggest that patients can stop taking these drugs and maintain weight loss through lifestyle changes.
– Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic and Wegovy, says that much like cholesterol-controlling statin drugs, this new class of medications is likely a lifelong commitment.
– Many health insurers and employers have long declined to pay for weight-loss drugs. Rising demand is forcing them to reconsider, and they’re searching for ways to blunt the cost of the drugs, which can exceed $1,000 a month.
– Startups such as Calibrate say they can help lower a person’s “set point,” even after they stop taking weight-loss drugs, though it’s not scientifically clear that this is possible.
– Drug companies including Novo Nordisk are clamoring to figure out ways to maintain GLP-1-induced weight loss, perhaps with new kinds of maintenance drugs people would take once they reached a lower body weight.
Conclusion: While GLP-1 drugs can help people lose a massive amount of weight, they may not be a long-term solution. Employers and startups need to understand that these drugs may require a lifelong commitment, and health insurers need to reconsider paying for weight-loss drugs as a temporary springboard to weight loss rather than a way to maintain it. Drug companies need to find ways to maintain GLP-1-induced weight loss, perhaps with new kinds of maintenance drugs people would take once they reached a lower body weight.