Diabetes drug beats Ozempic in weight loss trial as it's dubbed 'significantly more effective'

Obese fat woman injecting Semaglutide injection control blood sugar levels
-Credit: (Image: Iuliia Burmistrova)

Semaglutide, the Type 2 diabetes medication also known as Ozempic and Wegovy, might soon be dethroned as the go-to aid in the celebrity weight loss world.

With obesity rates and related Type 2 diabetes diagnoses on the rise, semaglutide and similar drugs have sparked a revolution in treating these life-limiting conditions. Some patients have even managed to reverse their weight-related diabetes, while others who've struggled with dieting have seen their waistlines decrease.

However, as with all breakthroughs, ongoing research continues to shed light on how these drugs function. Fresh research has discovered a similar insulin-boosting drug offers 'significant' improvement for individuals who find it hard to lose weight.

Tirzepatide, another medication initially used to combat diabetes, also operates by imitating a hormone in your body that is released in your stomach when you eat, called GLP-1.

GLP-1 triggers an increase in insulin production. Nevertheless, the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found tirzepatide to be "significantly" more effective as a weight loss treatment.

The extensive study analysed the responses of 18,386 people taking either tirzepatide or semaglutide drugs, around half of whom (52%) had Type 2 diabetes, reports Gloucestershire Live. An impressive 82 per cent of participants using tirzepatide reported a weight reduction of at least five per cent due to the drug's effects.

Comparing patient cohorts, which had an average age of 52, they discovered that two-thirds of people (66.5%) lost a noticeable amount of weight when using the popular semaglutide.

Unrecognizable woman control her weight, standing on scales near plant indoors
A study found that diabetic people lost more weight with tirzepatide than semaglutide -Credit:Olga Rolenko

Truveta's principal applied scientist, Patricia Rodriguez, PhD, who co-authored the study backed by the organisation, spoke to Medical News Today: "Patients on tirzepatide were over two times more likely to experience 10 per cent weight loss and three times more likely to experience 15 per cent weight loss within a year, compared to patients on semaglutide."

Rodriguez further detailed: "Our study also found that, in general, patients without type 2 diabetes experienced greater weight loss than patients with type 2 diabetes, but tirzepatide was more effective than semaglutide in both groups."

Amid a spate of Ozempic and similar diabetes medication being repurposed for slimmers, shortages have hit Type 2 diabetics who stand to gain the most from such innovative treatment some even achieving reversal of their condition. This has, worryingly, led to an increase in counterfeit medications, prompting a health warning from the World Health Organisation against these potentially hazardous fakes.

While this research bolsters the evidence base for insulin-boosting drugs like tirzepatide and semaglutide, NICE, the UK's medicinal watchdog, advises caution regarding their use, especially for individuals already on other medication.

NICE has issued a statement: "Tirzepatide delays gastric emptying, particularly following the first dose. This has the potential to slow the rate of absorption of concomitant oral medicines."

Nevertheless, findings from this latest study may sway how healthcare professionals decide on prescribing tirzepatide for weight management.

Truveta Research's Vice President Nick Stucky, MD, PhD, shared his insights on the matter: "While tirzepatide was significantly more effective than semaglutide, patients on both medications experienced substantial weight loss and we observed no difference in the risk of GI adverse events."

Although the outcomes of this research might shape future prescribing patterns, further studies into the enduring impacts of these GLP-1 mimicking drugs are essential. Patients are advised to consult their GP prior to any medication changes and steer clear of potentially dangerous counterfeit drugs available online.

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