Studies: Weight Loss Intensified By New Diabetes Drug

Diabetics and non-diabetics alike experience pronounced weight loss by following a high-dosage regimen of a new diabetes drug called liraglitude.

Don’t get overly excited, now: Though diabetic subjects of one study recently published in the International Journal of Obesity lost between 5 and 10 percent of their body mass in 56 weeks and also experienced improvements in some risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, they also followed low-calorie diets and exercised regularly. So couch potatoes might not see the same kind of weight loss.

Still, the authors of the study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that both study groups dieted and exercised, but the group taking liraglitude experienced dramatically pronounced weight loss.

The key, researchers stated, is prescribing the drug at a higher than normal dose. Though it’s normally available in 1.2 mg and 1.8 mg doses, a 3 mg dose was the key to the weight loss subjects experienced.

The company that makes the drug, Denmark-based Novo Nordisk, is now waiting for the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to approve that higher dosage.

Novo Nordisk has more than the one study to reference.

Scientists have known about the weight loss promise of liraglitude since 2009. A study published that year in The Lancet analyzed European subjects that didn’t even have type-2 diabetes and found the same kind of success over just 20 weeks. Those taking the drug lost “significantly more weight” than a placebo group.

“Liraglutide treatment over 20 weeks is well-tolerated, induces weight loss, improves certain obesity-related risk factors and reduces pre-diabetes,” according the earlier study’s conclusion.

Weight loss studies have shown great promise for not just liraglitude, but also other so-called incretin mimetics like exenatide, dulaglitude and albiglitude. All of these drugs are at various stages of approval from a range of pharmaceutical companies, according to Forbes.

Liraglitude appears to be the front-runner among the scientific set, though. In March, a report in the Formulary Journal by two professors of pharmacology at the University of Toledo, Julie Murphy and Michelle Mangan, stated that liraglitude has bested the best of known weight loss drugs, credited with “slowing gastric emptying, increasing glucose-dependent insulin secretion, decreasing inappropriate glucagon release and instilling a feeling of satiety.”

Since about 69 percent of the U.S. population is currently considered either obese or overweight, putting them at greater risk for developing diabetes, Murphy and Mangan were encouraged that liraglitude performs better than the current go-to drug for diabetic weight loss called orlistat. It also has far fewer adverse drug interactions than orlistat, which Murphy and Mangan stated “can affect the absorption and kinetics of fat-soluble vitamins, warfarin and lipophilic drugs such as gabapentin, amiodarone, valproic acid and lamotrigine.”

[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]