Science and Tech


This weight loss drug also cuts risk of heart problems, maker says

The maker of the weight loss drug Wegovy said a clinical trial showed it also reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
A scale is shown.
Posted at 9:55 PM, Aug 08, 2023

The popular weight loss drug Wegovy could also improve heart health, a landmark clinical trial has discovered.

The results published on Tuesday by the drug's maker, Novo Nordisk, revealed that in its five-year "SELECT" trial Wegovy was found to reduce the risk of major heart problems — including stroke, heart attack or heart-related death — by 20%.

This is the first time an obesity drug has been shown to have positive heart benefits for overweight people who don't have diabetes — a finding that could change how Wegovy is prescribed and insured. That's one goal for Novo Nordisk, which said it would file for a "label indication expansion" to make its drug available and covered for reasons beyond weight loss.

A Wegovy injection is one of three FDA-approved products based on semaglutide, the active compound in the weight loss medications. An Ozempic injection, one of the other semaglutide products, has also been approved to reduce the risk of major heart problems, but it was only proven to work in people with diabetes.

Study: 45% of teens on semaglutide no longer considered obese
A person injects themself with semaglutide.

Study: 45% of teens on semaglutide no longer considered obese

The FDA says semaglutide "mimics the GLP-1 hormone," which sends a signal to the brain that the person is full.


"People living with obesity have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease but to date, there are no approved weight management medications proven to deliver effective weight management while also reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death. Therefore, we are very excited about the results from SELECT showing that semaglutide 2.4 mg reduces the risk of cardiovascular events," said Martin Holst Lange, Novo Nordisk's executive vice president for Development. "SELECT is a landmark trial and has demonstrated that semaglutide 2.4 mg has the potential to change how obesity is regarded and treated."

The 17,604 participants in the SELECT trial were all over the age of 45 with a history of heart disease, were overweight or obese but not diabetic. Those who were treated with a weekly Wegovy injection versus a placebo experienced the reduction in "major adverse cardiovascular events."

The company will expand on this limited information at a scientific conference later this year, and once it's peer reviewed, it could kick off a path to easier prescription.

The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was nearly $173 billion in 2019, according to the CDC. A month's dose of Wegovy alone currently costs about $1,349.