- The World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly planning to commence a panel of advisors to review new requests to include weight loss drugs on its "essential medicines list," which is used as a guide for government purchasing decisions in low- and middle-income countries.1
- The request to consider the drugs, including the active ingredient liraglutide in Novo Nordisk's (NOVOb.CO) obesity drug Saxenda, was submitted by three doctors and a researcher in the US.2
- More than 650M adults worldwide are considered obese - triple that of 1975 - and another 2.6B are considered overweight. In the US alone, 41.9% of adults are obese compared to 30.5% in the late 1990s, leading to a greater risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.3
- Besides Saxenda, which has been shown to help people lose 5%-10% of their body weight, the request's approval could also give low- and middle-income countries access to Novo Nordisk's injection drug Wegovy, which can reduce weight by up to 15%.4
- As 70% of the world's overweight population live in low- and middle-income countries, some have questioned the drugs' affordability. Saxenda costs $450 per month in the US and $150 per month in Europe. Wegovy costs $1300 a month in the US.2
- A panel of advisors to the WHO is expected to review the request next month, with an updated essential medicines list due to be published in September.3
- Narrative A, as provided by Wired. Drugs like Wegovy, among several others, have proven slightly effective in helping people lose weight while leading to diseases like thyroid cancer and eating disorders. The industry has been a money-making scheme since the inception of weight loss surgeries 70 years ago, and it seems that these new drugs — which cost upwards of $1k or more per month — are Big Pharma's next billion-dollar lie.
- Narrative B, as provided by Forbes. Obesity is one of the deadliest diseases in the world, contributing to millions of deaths annually, but we may finally have the solution to this problem. We now see medications that can aid weight loss and reduce the risk of weight-related complications like diabetes. As for cost, It's time for insurance companies and governments to treat obesity similarly to other diseases so people can finally gain access to their life-saving effects.
- Narrative C, as provided by Guardian. While weight loss drugs provide a valuable tool in the fight against obesity, they don't tackle the root cause. More must be done to create a multi-faceted approach to preventing obesity in the first place by promoting healthy lifestyles and holding the food industry — which has promoted unhealthy food for years — to account.