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Diabetes Drug May Spur Weight Loss in Obese People

One-third who took Victoza lost 10 percent of body weight, researchers say

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Whether Victoza improves long-term weight management or leads to better health outcomes over years when used for weight loss is unknown, he said.

"But for now, Victoza takes its place alongside other drugs studied initially for diabetes, but [found to be] potentially useful for weight loss as well," Katz said.

"Such drugs will never replace diet and physical activity, but may prove a reasonable addition to lifestyle intervention in some patients," Katz added.

For the study, Wilding and colleagues randomly selected more than 3,700 obese and overweight adults to take daily injections of Victoza or a placebo. The participants' average age was 45.

People in both groups also followed a diet containing 500 fewer calories than a normal diet. And they had to increase physical activity by walking briskly for 30 minutes at least five times a week.

Many participants (61 percent) had blood sugar levels that made them prediabetics, but none had full-blown type 2 diabetes, the researchers noted.

The researchers found that almost two-thirds of those taking Victoza lost 5 percent or more of their body weight, and one-third lost 10 percent or more. Among those taking the placebo, 27 percent lost 5 percent of their body weight or more, and one in 10 lost 10 percent or more.

People taking Victoza also saw a drop in their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, the study found.

Based on these phase 3 trial findings, drug maker Novo Nordisk is asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve Victoza for weight loss. Phase 3 is the final step in the drug-approval process.

The most common side effects were nausea and diarrhea. Most of these were mild and short-lived, the researchers said.

Gallbladder and pancreas problems (pancreatitis) were more common among those taking Victoza, but the numbers were small. About 10 percent of the participants in both groups left the study because of side effects.

Wilding has served as a consultant to Novo Nordisk, which funded the study.

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