Slowly tapering off Ozempic may prevent patients from regaining weight, the study says

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Patients could wean themselves off blockbuster obesity drugs like Ozempic or Wegovy without piling the pounds back on, according to a scientific study.

Data presented Sunday at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, Italy, provides some of the first evidence that it could be possible to stop taking Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic or Wegovy and not regain any lost weight – as long as a healthy lifestyle is observed. to maintain.

When drugs like Ozempic and Eli Lilly’s Zepbound first hit the market, they were promoted as long-term remedies, with research showing that patients regain large amounts of the weight they lost when they stopped taking the drugs.

The Danish study of patients taking semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy, in addition to a weight management program via the Embla app, suggests that tapering off the drug – rather than a hard stop – could potentially prevent weight gain.

However, there were only 353 patients in the sample of patients who discontinued semaglutide, which is a small study size. These patients had reached their target weight and reduced their semaglutide dose for nine weeks. Patients continued to lose weight as they tapered, losing an average of 2.1% over the nine weeks.

The study also suggests that patients may be able to maintain their weight for several months after quitting. The researchers had data from 85 patients 26 weeks after stopping semaglutide and found that they maintained a stable weight.

“The combination of support in making lifestyle changes and tapering appears to make it possible for patients to avoid regaining weight after stopping semaglutide,” said Henrik Gudbergsen, lead researcher and chief physician at Embla, in a declaration.

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$100 billion market

Anti-obesity drugs have led to a surge in investment and a race to capture a market that Goldman Sachs analysts predict could reach $100 billion by 2030.

The study also looked at how semaglutide doses are increased when patients start taking the drug. The 2,246 patients in the broader study started semaglutide on the advice of a nutritionist. Through Embla they also had access to doctors, nurses and psychologists.

Patients’ doses were closely monitored and increased more slowly than standard treatment. The mean weight loss was 14.8% at 64 weeks, similar to other studies of semaglutide.

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