Last weekend, results from a much-anticipated clinical trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine , and in the days since then, variations of the headline “Weight Loss Drug Reduces Risk of Heart Attacks” have been scattered across mainstream news outlets. The blockbuster drug semaglutide (trade names Wegovy and Ozempic) – which has demonstrated impressive efficacy in reducing body weight and improving glycemic control – had reportedly been found to have a third clinical benefit in lowering risk of cardiovascular (CV) events. With semaglutide already considered a game-changing treatment for obesity and type 2 diabetes, these new findings have further added to its aura as a “miracle drug.” But when it comes to cardiovascular benefits, the results of this trial fall far short of miraculous.
Semaglutide is a member of the class of drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists, which we have covered in depth in previous podcasts (see AMAs #29 and #45 ) and newsletters . Briefly, these medications have been shown through numerous clinical trials to be effective in improving metabolic health through weight reduction and improvement of glucose regulation. The mechanisms by which these drugs act are not fully understood but likely involve numerous biochemical pathways related to metabolism, appetite, and inflammation, raising the possibility of a variety of effects beyond (and independent of) reduction of energy intake and blood glucose levels.