Popularity of weight loss drugs prompts warning from medics
People taking diet pills should be regularly evaluated by their doctors, experts said after another study of the risks associated with the drugs.
The popularity of new weight-loss drugs has led doctors and researchers in the United States to say they should be prescribed with caution and “should only be used when the benefits of the treatment outweigh the known or suspected risks.”
The drug GLP-1 RA, originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, has also been found to promote weight loss, leading the drugs Victoza and Ozempic to become popular choices for treating obesity.
Nearly 25 million Americans live with type 2 diabetes, and it is estimated that more than one in 10 are taking these drugs in 2019.
A link between long-term use of these drugs and a greater risk of thyroid cancer was identified in a recent study from the University of Montpellier, which investigated patients with type 2 diabetes who were on GLP-1 RAs from 2006 to 2018.
A key finding was that those who took it for one to three years were 58 percent more likely to develop thyroid cancer. A rare type of cancer, medullary thyroid carcinoma, carries a higher risk.
Erik K. Alexander, MD, Chief, Thyroid Unit, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, Brigham and Women's Hospital: The new standard for screening.
“[These drugs] It should be used only when the benefits of treatment outweigh the known or suspected risks, and each patient should continually reconsider this evaluation with their physician on a regular basis. “
The growing availability of the drug has created a supply and demand problem.
“I prescribe these pills 10 times a day,” said Dr. Amanda Velazquez, director of obesity medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
“Overall demand is high, awareness of the drug is higher because of its efficacy, and there is a shortage of supply chains for manufacturers to make the drug.”
“It's been very frustrating for everyone,” said Dr Heather Sateia, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“Pharmacies are short-staffed and they don't let people know when they're in stock, so it's like a scavenger hunt – time-consuming and anxiety-provoking for patients.”
Dr. Velazquez added that “obesity is a chronic relapsing disease” and that the weight loss effects of the drug disappear once someone stops taking the drug.
Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that makes Ozempic, Victoza and another drug called Wegovy, said: “While we recognize that some healthcare providers may prescribe Ozempic for patients with weight loss It is the clinical judgment of each healthcare provider to choose the best treatment for their patients.”
The company also said that data from trials and studies “do not demonstrate a causal relationship between the use of GLP-1 receptor agonists and the risk of thyroid tumors” and that the company “remains confident in the benefit-risk profile of its product and is Continue to work to ensure patient safety.”
Dr. Sateia said: “The data on thyroid cancer definitely make me hesitant. There are currently no recommendations for thyroid ultrasound or serum calcitonin monitoring, but we are watching those recommendations change closely. I suspect we will soon see This transformation.”