The findings of new research appear to confirm that Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Victoza promotes weight loss, but also warns about a potential increased risk of gastrointestinal disorders.
In a study published this week in the Journal for the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. said significant weight loss occurred among patients with type 2 diabetes given once-daily injections of Victoza.
Novo Nordisk recently had a double-dose of the drug approved as a weight loss drug, Saxenda, over objections of some experts who warn that the medication may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, thyroid problems and other side effects.
The this most recent study involved a 56-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 846 subjects, some of whom were given Victoza (liraglutide) at various strengths and some of whom were given a placebo with no active ingredient. All subjects had a body mass index of 27.0 or higher and were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers found that those given the highest dose, 3.0 mg daily, lost an average of six percent of their body mass over the course of a year. More than half of those given that dose lost five percent or greater. Lesser doses were also associated with weight loss. However, the findings also indicate that the 3.0 mg dose was associated with more reports of gastrointestinal disorders than lower doses or those given a placebo.
Further studies were needed to evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of using liraglutide as a weight loss drug, according to the researchers. However, Novo Nordisk already received FDA approval in December 2014 to market a double-dose of Victoza under the brand name Saxenda as a weight loss drug.
There are already concerns about the side effects of Victoza and Saxenda as weight-loss drugs. Canadian researchers published a study in March warning that the class of drugs, which also includes Byetta, may increase the risk of colon cancer, particularly among patients who have undergone bariatric weight loss surgery.
The expanded use of the medication for weight-loss also comes amid continuing concerns about the risk of pancreatic cancer, with a number of Victoza lawsuits being filed in courts nationwide on behalf of former users who allege that Novo Nordisk failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community.
Similar allegations have been raised in Byetta lawsuits, Januvia lawsuits and Janumet lawsuits, claiming that the entire incretin mimetic class of drugs increases the risk of pancreatic cancer for diabetics.