Ozempic quells kidney disease risk, study finds

In a yearslong trial of more than 3,500 participants, Novo Nordisk's Ozempic and Wegovy slowed the growth of chronic kidney disease and slashed the risk of heart attack, kidney failure, stroke and death.

The Novo Nordisk-run study tested how the drugs' generic, semaglutide, or a placebo affected major kidney disease events, including kidney failure. In patients with diabetes and chronic kidney disease, semaglutide cut the risk of kidney disease-related events by 24%, the risk of a major heart problem by 18% and the risk of death by 20%, according to findings published May 24 in NEJM

Fewer serious adverse events were reported in the semaglutide group (49.6%) than the placebo cohort (53.8%), too. 

The study is the "first ever renal outcomes trial with a GLP-1 receptor agonist," Michael Radin, MD, Novo Nordisk's executive medical director of diabetes, said in a statement shared with Becker's

Ozempic is approved for Type 2 diabetes. Wegovy is indicated for chronic weight management, and it's approved to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in adults with cardiovascular disease who are obese or overweight. Based on the kidney disease trial's results, Novo Nordisk said it plans to file for FDA label expansions later this year. 

If Ozempic and Wegovy gain more approvals, tensions about their price might heat up and the already-blockbuster drugs could reach a new record. (They have already pushed Novo Nordisk to be Europe's No. 1 company by market capitalization.)

Apart from kidney disease, researchers are also seeing how these medications and others in the GLP-1 drug class might treat osteoarthritis, liver disease, cancer, dementia, Parkinson's disease, addiction, anxiety and depression. 

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