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New obesity drug trial results hailed as 'very important breakthrough'

An obesity drug, researched in Ireland and nine other countries, could help reduce a person’s body weight by 11%.
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

20.21 22 Nov 2021


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New obesity drug trial results...

New obesity drug trial results hailed as 'very important breakthrough'

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

20.21 22 Nov 2021


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The results of a trial of a new obesity drug have been hailed as a major breakthrough.

Those who used the medicine - named cagrilintide and developed by Danish firm Novo Nordisk - in a trial lost an average of two stone or up to 11% of their body weight over six months.

More than 700 people in 10 countries, including Ireland, took part in the 2019 study, the results of which have now been published in The Lancet.

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Researchers say the drug led to "significant reductions in bodyweight and was well tolerated" compared to a placebo.

Obesity specialist and consultant at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Professor Carel le Roux was one of the lead researchers.

He told Newstalk Breakfast the drug isn't a weight loss medication, but an obesity drug.

He explained obesity is a disease, and this drug works on the parts of the brain "that has the disease and makes people feel more hungry or less satisfied".

By treating the disease itself, people will then "naturally" lose weight and eat less food.

While not every patient will qualify for the new medicine, Professor le Roux said it will be cost-effective and improve the quality of life for eligible patients.

However, he said he's hopeful the drug can be used more widely in the future as the medication becomes cheaper.

"Very important breakthrough"

Bariatric physician Francis Finucane - Programme Director for Ireland’s first MSc in Obesity at NUI Galway - told Lunchtime Live the new medicine is a significant development.

New obesity drug trial results hailed as 'very important breakthrough'

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He said: “I was excited to read about it - it’s a very important breakthrough for our efforts to try to help people who are worst affected by the obesity crisis here and internationally.

“It’s an excellent day for patients who are affected by this condition.

"The development of these drugs leads to much more promising outcomes for patients.”

Some have questioned whether such a drug is needed when lifestyle changes can also reduce an individual's body weight.

However, Dr Finucane stressed that a substantial number of patients who are affected by overweight or obesity “are unable to implement the guidelines to eat as healthily as possible”.

He explained: “The ability to eat a perfect diet varies in the population, and that’s where the genetics come in.

“Eating behaviour - the things that drive how we feed about certain types of food or how hungry we feel in between meals or how full we feel at the end of a meal - are all profoundly impacted by physiology, not personality. The parts of our brains that control eating behaviour… are beyond our control.

“Of course it’s important that people make an effort and take responsibility for a healthy lifestyle, but for some individuals, it’s very difficult to do - even with the best psychological care in the world and the best education in the world.”

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Image Source / Alamy Stock Photo

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