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Caution Urged for ‘Miracle’ Weight Loss Drugs

Two experts have highlighted major challenges facing the adoption of new obesity drugs, specifically Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic. Dr. Kavita Patel, a physician and NBC News medical contributor, considers the data supporting the use of obesity drugs for conditions such as Alzheimer’s and alcohol addiction as underdeveloped compared to robust data for diabetes control.

Novo Nordisk recently halted its FLOW trial, which showed Ozempic’s ability to treat chronic kidney disease in Type 2 diabetic patients. Patel believes efficacy is just one hurdle, with cost, adherence, and prescriber rate being significant barriers to broader adoption. Currently, patients opting to use GLP-1 drugs for weight management often face out-of-pocket expenses, and some insurance providers are declining coverage for the weight loss indication.

Patel anticipates that if the FDA approves Ozempic for Type 2 diabetics with chronic kidney disease, it could influence insurance companies to expand coverage, provided the data is compelling. Mizuho Health Care Sector Strategist Jared Holz also expects challenges related to insurance coverage as more patients begin taking GLP-1 drugs. He points out a valuation disconnect between Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, and their pharmaceutical peers, emphasizing that the growth trend may not be sustainable due to current supply constraints.

Holz suggests that companies may struggle to produce enough to meet demand and generate sufficient revenue to satisfy investors. The overall sentiment is that despite promising data, the adoption of obesity drugs for secondary uses faces several hurdles, including economic and practical challenges.

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