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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Perth surgeons warns against short-term fix with obesity medicines

Health Industry Hub | June 30, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: A renowned surgeon in Perth has sparked controversy by raising concerns about the increasing reliance on weight loss medicines and injectables to combat obesity. Dr Siva Gounder, Bariatric Surgeon, General Surgeon and Endoscopist, has sounded the alarm on this popular trend, shedding light on the hidden health risks and financial burdens associated with these “quick-fix solutions”.

Weight loss medicines and injectables are being touted as a magic remedy for shedding excess fat. However, according to Dr Gounder, these therapies can have unforeseen consequences and should not be considered as a long-term standalone solution. Many individuals who turn to these methods find that their weight quickly returns or even increases once they stop using them.

Furthermore, the financial burden associated with relying solely on weight loss pills and injectables is not to be ignored. Maintaining these medications in the long run can be exorbitantly expensive, as they need to be taken continuously to sustain any weight loss achieved. On average, users spend around $400 per month, which far exceeds the cost of supported weight loss programs or surgical solutions.

Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy (semaglutide), a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, was granted approval for chronic weight management by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) on September 1, 2022, but it is not reimbursed through the PBS.

A real-world study presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO2023) showcased 82% of patients achieving a weight loss of more than 5% of their body weight, 65% surpassing the 10% milestone, 41% triumphing over 15%, and an impressive 21% conquering 20% weight loss at the one-year mark.

Contrary to the limited and short-term effectiveness of obesity medications, bariatric surgery offers a more promising option, according to Dr Gounder.

In fact, in a landmark study hailed as the largest and longest-running comparison of its kind, the ARMMS-T2D has shed new light on the efficacy of bariatric surgery versus medical management in treating type 2 diabetes and obesity. The seven-year results were particularly striking. The metabolic/bariatric surgery group showcased a more significant reduction in weight (19.9% versus 8.3%, p<0.001). Importantly, the study also revealed that diabetes remission rates were significantly higher in the metabolic/bariatric surgery group (18.2% versus 6.2%, p=0.02). However, it’s worth noting that adverse events such as anaemia, fractures, and gastrointestinal issues were more common among those who underwent surgery.

“It’s also worrying there are online, impersonal services prescribing these medications, and doctors aligning themselves with these products, which jeopardises a subjective, comprehensive overview of a patient’s health picture,” Dr Gounder said.

He urged individuals to prioritise their physical and mental health, seeking guidance from experts rather than relying on quick-fix solutions. Investing in comprehensive weight loss programs or surgical interventions, which are supported by a network of healthcare professionals, is the key to long-term success and overall well-being.

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