Wegovy fuels sharp rise in use of weight-loss medication for US youth – ET HealthWorld | Pharma


Los Angeles: A small however quickly rising variety of U.S. adolescents started therapy with Novo Nordisk‘s weight-loss drug Wegovy final yr, a strong new software to handle report charges of pediatric weight problems, in accordance with information shared solely with Reuters.

Within the first 10 months of 2023, 1,268 youngsters ages 12 to 17 with an weight problems prognosis began taking Wegovy, in accordance with U.S. insurance coverage claims information compiled by well being expertise firm Komodo Well being.

In 2022, solely 25 youngsters had been prescribed the drug, which didn’t obtain U.S. approval for adolescent use till December of that yr. A month later, the influential American Academy of Pediatrics really helpful weight-loss medication be supplied to youngsters with weight problems beginning at age 12.

Medicaid information obtained by Reuters from 5 states, together with Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, present an analogous uptick in use of Wegovy. The general numbers stay small, with at the least 464 youngsters throughout the 5 states being prescribed the drug since January 2022.

That doesn’t embrace prescriptions purchased with out medical insurance, or off-label use of two related remedies for sort 2 diabetes, Ozempic from Novo and Mounjaro from Eli Lilly.

Even so, they’re a drop within the bucket as almost 20 per cent of U.S. youngsters, or about 14.7 million, have weight problems, in accordance with federal estimates.

However the information point out an rising willingness amongst households to embrace Wegovy, the primary extremely efficient therapy for weight problems, wanting surgical procedure. Use of the weekly injection can contain nice value, with restricted information on long-term dangers and advantages.

“I take advantage of these drugs wherever I can. Not like with adults, the place it is like a rescue operation, we’re more likely with youngsters and adolescents to forestall illness,” mentioned Dr Suzanne Cuda, medical director of Alamo Metropolis Wholesome Youngsters and Households in San Antonio, Texas. Cuda was an adviser to Novo Nordisk on pediatric weight problems.

Weight problems has been linked to many severe well being situations together with diabetes, coronary heart illness and most cancers.

In prior years, a a lot smaller variety of adolescents had been prescribed Novo’s Saxenda, which was authorized for grownup weight reduction in 2014 and for adolescents in 2020. Saxenda works in an analogous strategy to curb urge for food as Wegovy, however leads to much less weight reduction on common. Each belong to a category of therapies generally known as GLP-1 agonists.

There have been 378 adolescents prescribed Saxenda within the first 10 months of 2023, the Komodo information present. That was down from 567 sufferers who began to make use of the treatment in 2022. From 2018 to 2021, 266 adolescents obtained new Saxenda prescriptions.

Billy Small Jr. of Oakland, California, mentioned he and his household had been initially reluctant to place their 15-year-old son on Wegovy. They frightened about unintended effects corresponding to nausea, vomiting and different gastrointestinal issues, in addition to potential unknown dangers from long-term use.

Novo’s medical trial of Wegovy in adolescents lasted about 18 months.

Their son, Billy Small III, was 5-foot-9 (1.75 meters) and weighed 385 kilos (176 kilograms) on the time. Their pediatrician warned that he was at elevated danger of growing sort 2 diabetes and coronary heart illness. He had already been identified with bronchial asthma.

“We requested Billy how he felt about it. He simply actually wished the burden to be gone,” mentioned his father.

Since beginning on Wegovy in March 2023, Billy has misplaced about 90 kilos, or 23 per cent of his complete physique weight. The drug was coated by the household’s state Medicaid plan.

Billy’s urge for food diminished sharply, and he not often skilled unintended effects. He began to hitch associates for films and basketball video games and started going to the health club together with his father.

“The load was arduous on his confidence,” Billy Small Jr. mentioned of his son, now 16. “His high quality of life is already 100 occasions higher than what it was.”

Each Novo and Eli Lilly are testing their weight-loss medication in youngsters as younger as 6. Lilly’s drug, tirzepatide, is simply authorized for adults within the U.S. underneath the model identify Mounjaro for sort 2 diabetes and Zepbound for weight reduction.

Lilly mentioned it could not touch upon “future plans for tirzepatide in youngsters or adolescents as medical trials are nonetheless ongoing.”

Novo mentioned there are about 175 million youngsters and adolescents with weight problems worldwide, and for some, a reduced-calorie weight loss plan and elevated train will not be sufficient.

The U.S. is amongst a handful of nations making an attempt new weight-loss medication in youth. Any classes realized might inform well being officers elsewhere. Novo mentioned the drug obtained related approvals for youth final yr in Germany, the UK, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates.

With out insurance coverage protection, Wegovy can value as a lot as $1,300 monthly within the U.S. Information to date present a majority of people that cease taking it regain a lot of the misplaced weight. It isn’t clear whether or not there are methods to keep away from utilizing it for a lifetime.

Komodo reviewed medical insurance claims involving almost 20 million youngsters, or about 80 per cent of the U.S. inhabitants aged 12 to 17. Amongst these sufferers, 2.25 million adolescents had an weight problems prognosis listed of their insurance coverage claims in the course of the almost six-year interval reviewed. The evaluation was carried out utilizing closed insurance coverage claims by October 2023.

Some medical specialists urge warning given an absence of proof about how these drugs might have an effect on improvement.

The U.S. Preventive Providers Job Power really helpful intensive counseling, together with behavioral remedy and dietary schooling, fairly than treatment, for serving to youngsters who have to drop pounds.

“We do not actually know what these drugs do within the context of the rising little one,” mentioned Dr Dan Cooper, distinguished professor of pediatrics on the University of California at Irvine.

  • Revealed On Feb 16, 2024 at 12:58 PM IST

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