Ozempic Drug Semaglutide Could Protect Kidneys, Study Finds

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Topline

Novo Nordisk’s weight loss injection semaglutide — the ingredient inside its wildly popular drugs Ozempic and Wegovy — could also help protect the kidneys, according to new research, a finding that bolsters the growing public health case for the drug amid ongoing concerns over costs and short supplies.

Key Facts

The findings come from an analysis of data from the years-long Select trial of semaglutide.

Select, which is funded by Novo, is the longest clinical trial of Wegovy and includes a pool of 17,604 overweight or obese adult participants over the age of 45 from 41 countries.

There were 22% fewer people with kidney-related problems among the nearly 9,000-strong cohort taking weekly semaglutide injections compared to the group receiving a placebo, the researchers found, a relative incidence of 1.8% and 2.2%, respectively.

The researchers considered a variety of kidney issues including death from kidney causes, significant decline in kidney function, the initiation of chronic kidney replacement therapy and the onset or persistence of macroalbuminuria (high levels of the protein albumin in the urine).

Semaglutide’s ability to tackle this last condition, the onset of macroalbuminuria, is likely a key factor in reducing the chance of kidney-related complications, the researchers said.

Patients taking semaglutide also showed markedly lesser declines of a key metric of kidney function called the estimated glomerular filtration rate, which was particularly pronounced among those with low baseline readings indicative of impairment, the researchers said, suggesting the drug may help protect people with pre-existing kidney impairments.

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Tangent

Kidney injury has been reported as a potential side effect of taking semaglutide and is indicated as a potential risk on the Food and Drug Administration label for the drug. In this latest trial, however, the researchers said they found no increased risk of acute kidney injury linked to semaglutide treatment. This held regardless of baseline kidney function, the researchers added.

News Peg

Novo Nordisk ended a separate trial of the drug looking at kidney disease last year far earlier than originally expected on account of the positive results. The trial, called FLOW, found a 24% drop in kidney disease-related events among patients on semaglutide compared to placebo. Both obesity and diabetes contribute to kidney damage and the success of weight loss drugs, as well as early data suggesting wider kidney benefits, has dented shares in dialysis companies.

Key Background

The results add to a growing pile of evidence suggesting the health benefits of popular weight loss injections extend far beyond obesity, itself a condition known to have a wide reaching impact on the mind and body. In addition to obesity and diabetes, the condition GLP-1 drugs like semaglutide were initially tapped to treat, Wegovy now includes cardiovascular benefits on its label. A myriad of other conditions are also being explored, including sleep apnea, addiction, anxiety, Parkinson’s and fatty liver disease. The data market leaders Novo and Eli Lilly — which produces tirzepatide, marketed as Mounjaro and Zepbound — are able to generate on other conditions is pivotal to helping them maintain an edge over competitors as they race to bring their first products to market and bolster the public health case for authorities dragging their heels on funding the drugs.

Further Reading

ForbesOzempic Drug Semaglutide Could Cut Heart Risk By 20%-Regardless Of Weight Loss, Study Finds
ForbesDrugs Like Ozempic And Mounjaro Could Treat Other Conditions-Here’s What Scientists Are Looking AtForbesOzempic And Wegovy Rivals: Here Are The Companies Working On Competitor Weight Loss DrugsForbesHere’s Why Ozempic And Mounjaro Rivals Won’t Topple Drugmakers Novo Nordisk And Eli Lilly Anytime SoonForbesBernie Sanders Urges Ozempic Maker Novo Nordisk To Be Fair Over ‘Outrageously Expensive’ U.S. Drug Prices

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