Novo Nordisk’s glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist semaglutide significantly cut body weight in a large-scale trial of adults who are overweight or obese.

The study enrolled 1,964 adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, who were given once-weekly injection of semaglutide 2.4mg or placebo, plus lifestyle intervention.

In the semaglutide-treated group, the average reduction in body weight from baseline was 14.9%, compared to just 2.4% in the placebo group – reflecting a treatment difference of 12.4%.

In addition, more participants in the semaglutide group compared to placebo achieved weight reduction of 5% or more – 86.4% and 31.5%, respectively.

On top of that, 69.1% of patients in the semaglutide group achieved a weight reduction of 10% or more, compared to 12% in the placebo group.

Half of the participants treated with semaglutide also achieved a weight reduction of 15% or more, compared to just 4.9% in the placebo group.

In addition to causing weight loss, participants who received semaglutide had a greater improvement on cardiometabolic risk factors, as well as a greater increase in physical function from baseline compared to placebo.

The most common side effects reported in this trial were nausea and diarrhoea, which were typically transient and mild-to-moderate.

‘In participants with overweight or obesity, 2.4 mg of semaglutide once weekly plus lifestyle intervention was associated with sustained, clinically relevant reduction in body weight,’ commented the researchers.

Oral semaglutide is already marketed in the EU under the brand name Rybelsus for the treatment fo type II diabetes as an adjunct to diet and exercise for adults whose condition remains uncontrolled.

Last December, Novo filed for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval for once-weekly semaglutide for weight management.