The GLP-1 liraglutide can increase weight loss in overweight and obese adults without diabetes when combined with diet and exercise a study published in NEJM shows.
In the 56-week double-blind randomised trial of 3,731 overweight adults, patients who received liraglutide 3mg a day lost an average of 8.4 kg, compared with 2.8 kg in the placebo group.
And 63% of participants in the liraglutide group lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared with 27% in the placebo group.
Furthermore a third of patients in the treatment group lost more than 10% of their body weight compared to one-tenth of the placebo group, reported the researchers led by Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer from the Division of Endocrinology and Obesity Research Center at Columbia University in New York.
Improvements were also seen in secondary endpoints including glycemic control, fasting insulin concentrations, cardiometabolic markers, and quality-of-life measures.
Remarkably, the rate of new diagnoses of diabetes in the liraglutide group was less than one eighth that in the placebo group, noted Dr. Elias S. Siraj and Dr. Kevin Jon Williams, of the Temple University, Philadelphia, in an accompanying editorial.
A 2-year study extension was performed to pursue this finding, and the data are currently being analyzed, they said.
Nevertheless, given previous disappointments with various weight-loss strategies, these are welcome findings, they said, warning that liraglutide was no cure.
“Most obese participants stayed obese, reversal of the metabolic syndrome was not quantified, and liraglutide may be required indefinitely, like statins, but with delivery by injection and at a nontrivial cost,” they wrote.
“On the basis of the current study, modest weight loss may now be easier to achieve, yet we await the results from studies with longer follow-up,” they concluded.
Liraglutide is approved in the US, in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity, as a treatment option for chronic weight management in overweight/obese people.
The European Medicines Agency is also considering an application for its approval for this indication in Europe, but it is not yet approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for this indication in Australia.