PHARMACY

Liraglutide compares favorably to weight loss drug

BY Drew Buono

Novo Nordisk has released results from a 32-week extension of a 20-week phase 2 obesity study in which, patients were treated with its diabetes medication liraglutide. The drug was tested in 398 of the 564 participants who were in the original 20-week study; all patients did not have diabetes.

Liraglutide was compared in the study to the weight loss medication orlistat, which is marketed as Alli by GlaxoSmithKline and Xenical by Roche.

After 52 weeks, liraglutide given once daily at the highest dose led to a mean weight loss of around 16.5-17.6 lbs and a placebo-adjusted weight loss of around 12.1–13.2 lbs, compared to a weight loss after 20 weeks of just above 15.4 lbs from baseline and 9.9 lbs placebo-adjusted. Around 75 percent of the people treated with the highest dose achieved a weight loss larger than 5 percent and more than 35 percent achieved a weight loss larger than 10 percent after 52 weeks of treatment compared to around 25 percent and around 10 percent, respectively, reaching the same weight loss targets with placebo. The people treated with orlistat lost 7.7–8.8 lbs from baseline and around 45 percent and around 15 percent achieved a weight loss larger than 5 percent and 10 percent after 52 weeks of treatment, respectively.

Of all patients participating in the extension study, around 30 percent showed signs of prediabetes at randomization. After one year of being treated, around 80 percent of this prediabetes subgroup of patients treated with the highest dose of liraglutide no longer showed any signs of prediabetes, compared to around 30 percent for the placebo and orlistat-treated groups.

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, executive vice president and chief science officer at Novo Nordisk, said: “The results of the extension of the phase 2 obesity study clearly demonstrates that liraglutide has a sustained ability to reduce body weight while at the same time providing protection against deteriorating glycemic control.”

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PHARMACY

Researchers develop online tool for tracking children’s immunizations

BY Drew Buono

ATLANTA Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed an online tool to help parents and pediatricians adjust childhood immunization schedules when one or more vaccinations are missed.

When a child falls behind in the vaccination schedule, doctors must determine when it’s appropriate to give any missed vaccines or future vaccines. This usually requires the creation of a personalized catch-up schedule for each child, something that’s often done while the child sits in the treatment room. The online tool is designed to ensure that missed and future vaccines are given without violating guidelines regarding vaccines and doses.

“Physicians have been telling us for years that they needed a computerized program to tell them when to give vaccines after a child misses scheduled immunizations. Now this tool is available for health care professionals and parents to use, and they are excited to use it,” said Larry Pickering, executive director of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and a collaborator on the project.

When using the tool, a doctor or parent inputs a child’s date of birth and previous immunization dates. The program then creates a personalized schedule of the recommended dates to administer all future vaccines. It offers two options—administer the vaccines as soon as possible or administer the vaccines when recommended.

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PHARMACY

HHS awards contracts for speedy flu identification test

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON If the world ever faced an avian influenza pandemic, how would doctors distinguish it from the seasonal flu?

Health and human services department secretary Mike Leavitt announced Thursday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had awarded $12.9 million in contracts to two pharmaceutical firms for the development of tests that could distinguish the common flu from the lethal H5N1 form within three hours.

The two companies are San Diego-based Nanogen, and Gaithersburg, Md.-based Meso Scale Diagnostics, each of which received about $6.5 million for the contracts. The contracts provide funding of up to $10.4 million for Nanogen and $12.1 million for Meso Scale Diagnostics for further developments up to three years.

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