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Wegovy was shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or heart disease-related death in a major clinical trial in people with cardiovascular disease.


The weight loss drug Wegovy was shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or heart disease-related death by 20% in a major clinical trial in people with cardiovascular disease, the first to show a weight loss drug alone can have such protective effects.

Novo Nordisk studied Wegovy against placebo in addition to standard of care for prevention of major adverse cardiac events in 17,604 adults with heart disease and obesity or who were overweight, but who didn’t have diabetes. It called the five-year trial “Select.”

The finding of a 20% reduction in heart risk is higher than many experts had anticipated. A similar trial for the type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic, which uses the same ingredient, semaglutide, previously showed it could reduce cardiovascular risk by 26% — but no trial had yet shown a risk reduction in people without diabetes.

“Select is a landmark trial and has demonstrated that semaglutide 2.4mg has the potential to change how obesity is regarded and treated,” said Martin Holst Lange, Novo Nordisk’s executive vice president for development.

The findings, which have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal, may encourage more people to use the wildly popular weight loss drug, but also potentially help improve insurance coverage, physicians told CNN.

“If the Select study is positive, it will add to the growing body of evidence that weight loss is not just cosmetic and will encourage insurers to pay for medications that reduce weight,” Dr. Willa Hsueh, director of the Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center at Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University, told CNN before the results were released.

Wegovy costs $1,349 a month before insurance, and coverage has been difficult for many patients in the US.

“For weight loss right now, I would call it poor,” said Dr. Jena Shaw Tronieri, director of Clinical Services at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in an interview before the trial results. “We do see a lot of patients struggling to access these medications.”

Novo Nordisk said Wegovy appeared to have a “safe and well-tolerated profile” in the study, in line with what it has seen in previous trials.

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The company said it will submit applications with regulators to add the cardiovascular benefits to the drug’s prescribing information, a key step to securing better insurance coverage. It said it will present detailed results from the trial at a scientific conference later this year.

Fuller results are crucial for obtaining a better understanding of the trial’s findings, the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Steven Nissen told CNN before the study results. He is leading a similar trial for tirzepatide, a drug made by Eli Lilly and sold for type 2 diabetes as Mounjaro. It’s awaiting US Food and Drug Administration approval for weight loss as well.

“I think for a drug that requires patients to inject weekly, that’s relatively expensive, a meaningful result … is a 15% relative risk reduction,” Nissen said. But he noted he’d be disappointed with that level. “Something more Iike 20% for a biological is a more reasonable one.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.