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Obesity medicine euphoria warning: Experts tackle ‘miracle drugs’

by Mark Mendoza

The adoption of new obesity drugs is facing significant challenges, according to two experts. Dr. Kavita Patel, a physician and NBC News medical contributor, highlights the need for more data to support the use of obesity drugs for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and alcohol addiction. She believes that the recent data from Novo Nordisk on the ability of its drug Ozempic to delay the progression of chronic kidney disease is among the strongest evidence for secondary uses of the drug.

However, Patel also acknowledges that there are major hurdles to clear before obesity drugs can be approved for uses outside of diabetes management. These barriers include cost, adherence, and the rate of prescription by healthcare providers. Currently, patients who choose to use GLP-1 drugs, a group of medications initially designed to control diabetes, for weight management often have to pay out-of-pocket.

Insurance coverage is another issue that could limit the overall adoption of obesity drugs. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Ozempic for use in Type 2 diabetics with chronic kidney disease, it could compel insurance companies to expand their coverage of the drug. However, both Patel and Mizuho Health Care Sector Strategist Jared Holz expect challenges related to insurance coverage as more patients start taking GLP-1 drugs.

Holz also points out a divide emerging in the healthcare sector between Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, and their pharmaceutical peers. The valuation disconnect between these companies may not be sustainable in the long term, particularly due to supply constraints that have left patients unable to secure dosages of these drugs.

Overall, while there is promising evidence for the secondary uses of obesity drugs like Ozempic, there are still several hurdles that need to be overcome. These include the need for more data, cost issues, adherence challenges, and insurance coverage limitations. Despite the potential benefits of these drugs, it remains to be seen how successful their adoption will be in the face of these challenges.

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