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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Contentious medicine emerges as a game-changer in chronic kidney disease

Health Industry Hub | May 27, 2024 |

Pharma News: Novo Nordisk’s contentious diabetes/weight loss medicine has emerged as a potential game-changer in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and type 2 diabetes management. Despite being approved and reimbursed for treating type 2 diabetes, Ozempic (semaglutide) has gained popularity as an ‘off-label’ choice for individuals seeking weight loss, causing nation-wide supply shortages.

In an international clinical trial funded by Novo Nordisk, Ozempic demonstrated noteworthy efficacy in preventing kidney failure and reducing mortality rates among individuals with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

The study, led by Scientia Professor Vlado Perkovic, Provost at UNSW Sydney, unveiled compelling results.

“The benefits of semaglutide for those with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease were greater than expected,” remarked Professor Perkovic. “We would be saving kidneys, hearts and lives in this population by making this drug available to them and that’s quite extraordinary for one treatment to be able to do.”

The trial engaged over 3500 participants across 28 countries, including Australia, the USA, and China. Strikingly, a lower weekly dosage of 1.0mg of Ozempic exhibited substantial efficacy, outperforming conventional doses typically prescribed for diabetes or weight loss management.

“It’s the same chemical compound but we used a lower dose … we did that deliberately because people with kidney disease tend to be more sensitive to the effects and side effects of drugs,” Professor Perkovic explained.

The trial’s findings revealed that major kidney disease events were 24% lower in the Ozempic group. Also, the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, were 18% lower, while risk of death from any cause fell by 20%.

Professor Perkovic underscored the pressing need to leverage these findings to alleviate the growing burden of kidney disease, which impacts approximately 850 million individuals worldwide.

“One of the most common causes of kidney disease is diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, which has also been growing dramatically in recent decades,” he noted.

Despite the promising results from the clinical trial, continuing supply shortages exacerbated by the drug’s high demand for weight loss presents an ongoing barrier for patient access. The government has even banned replicas of the drug illegally manufactured by compounding pharmacies.

“The challenge is to get these results into clinical practice, to get the drug used by the people who will benefit from it, who will live longer without dialysis, without heart attacks, without strokes, if they take this drug,” Professor Perkovic asserted, encapsulating the urgency of translating scientific advancements into tangible patient outcomes.

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