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New weight loss drug retatrutide shows promise in trial, doctors say

Around 40 million Americans qualify for medical treatment for obesity, according to bariatric surgeon Dr. Frank Chae.
A closeup of a beam scale is seen in New York on April 3, 2018.
Posted at 5:09 PM, Jul 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-14 04:13:34-04

More than half of the world population will be obese by 2035, according to the 2023 World Obesity Atlas.

Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC.

But there’s also been a lot of innovation in the medical weight loss space between bariatric surgery and medication —including a new drug undergoing trials that doctors say is showing a lot of promise. That drug is called retatrutide.

"What's really exciting about this one, retatrutide, is that it’s a combination of about three different hormones that work together, while at the same time, activate different mechanisms such as our sugar metabolism, our energy metabolism, and also our appetite control," said Dr. Frank Chae, the medical director of bariatric surgery at Sky Ridge Medical Center.

Chae said this is what sets it apart from other drugs currently on the market, like Ozempic and Wegovy.

Box of Ozempic medication

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Phase 2 trial results for the drug, produced by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, were released in June. It helped people lose around 24 percent of their body weight, according to the findings.

A larger phase 3 clinical trial is expected to run through most of 2025.

"Because it's a combination drug therapy, it actually enhances much more weight loss than before," Chae explained.

However, Chae said not everyone qualifies for weight loss medication and there are side effects to consider like gastrointestinal problems and gallbladder disease.

"In the long term, the medications are not a cure. They will help people lose weight for a limited time, it was not designed to be used forever," he said.

@scrippsnews Have you heard of #retatrutide? It’s a new weight loss drug currently undergoing trials. We spoke with a bariatric surgeon on what makes this drug different from the rest. #WeightLoss #health ♬ original sound - Scripps News