FDA approves use of weight-loss drug Wegovy to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke

The blockbuster weight loss drug Wegovy was approved to reduce the risk of a heart attack, the drug’s maker, Novo Noridsk, said Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the drug’s classification and said Wegovy is now can be prescribed to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokesthe company indicated.

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vials of the medicine Wegovy.
Vials of the medicine Wegovy.
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The decision comes after, in an advanced clinical trial with more than 17,000 adults, Novo Nordisk found that Wegovy reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 20%, compared to a placebo. All of the people in the study were overweight or obese, and also had a history of heart problems.

The change could mean that more employers and insurers are persuaded to pay for the medicine.

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Many have been reluctant to cover this expensive weight loss drug.

Wegovy, along with other weight loss drugs such as Eli Lilly’s Zepbound, are not typically paid for by insurance companies, and Medicare is prohibited by law from doing so.

The approval, according to Novo Nordisk, makes Wegovy the first treatment approved in the United States to help people control your weight and reduce the risk of heart disease.

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Wegovy contains semaglutide, the same active ingredient found in the popular diabetes medication Ozempic, which is often prescribed off-label for weight loss. Both are manufactured by Novo Nordisk.