Diabetes Drug That Also Treats Obesity Could Make Billions
Being fat sucks. I’m not judging; I’ve been overweight all my life. Obesity puts you at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers.
Then of course there’s Type 2 diabetes. The mother of all obesity-related complications keeps your body from regulating the sugar it needs as fuel, and can lead to all kinds of health issues, like kidney damage, heart disease, and even limb amputation.
That could change, if pharmaceutical companies can convince doctors that a new-ish class of drugs can attack Type II diabetes and the fatness that begets it—without killing patients. Earlier this month, at the Endocrine Society’s annual conference in Boston, Danish pharma Novo Nordisk presented three years of data showing that their diabetes drug liraglutide helped obese and prediabetic patients lose weight without undue risk. Which is big, for a drug that’s been flagged for causing cancer.
In rats, that is. Liraglutide—or Saxenda, as it’s known commercially for weight-loss—carries a black box warning from the FDA for giving thyroid tumors to rodents. However, the specific tumor-causing cell biology is different enough in rats that many endocrinologists don’t consider it a significant risk to human patients.
Many, but not all. Weight loss drugs are historically pretty risky. Remember Fen-Phen? It was great at helping people get skinny—as long as those people were OK with developing chronic heart problems. Fen-Phen was pulled from the market in 1997, and its maker had to pay billions of dollars in legal fees.
Liraglutide, in Saxenda form, might Continue reading