Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Losing weight through daily injection! A new therapy being commercialized

Losing weight is a multibillion dollar business in western countries and there  are many specially designed foods and dietary regimes offered in the market place to help overweight and obese people to trim down. In-house treatment of obese people in specialty centers is also becoming popular though they are called by the romantic name "Wellness Centers". While those with BMI figures slightly higher than normal limits can manage with minor adjustments in the diet and better eating discipline, it is those who score BMI values beyond 30 who need special attention. Extreme measures like Bariatric surgery and other interventionist procedures are increasingly being resorted to by desperate patients to get relief from the dangerous outcome of uncontrolled weight gain. Recently even an implantation procedure to interfere with the hunger signals from the brain through the vagus nerves in the stomach has been cleared for application in highly obese people.  Against this backdrop comes the news that the EU has cleared a new therapy using daily injections that will help people to reduce their food consumption at least by 10% and shed excess weights with assured results. Here is a take on this new development.

"A treatment of injections that can help people lose a stone more than they normally would by dieting or exercising more has been approved by health watchdogs. Liraglutide, which has been described by doctors as life-changing, could be available on prescription in months. Slimmers typically lose almost a stone more than they would by simply watching how many calories they consume and doing more exercise. Trials showed that some severely obese patients lost so much weight they were able to abandon their wheelchairs and walk normally for the first time in years. Liraglutide also lowers blood pressure, raises good cholesterol and prevents diabetes. According to its makers, Novo Nordisk of Denmark, the drug even produces a 'feel-good factor', making dieting a pleasure. But some experts have already warned it does not provide a long-term solution to the growing problem of obesity in Britain. Novo Nordisk will apply for it to be prescribed on the NHS after Friday's ruling by the European drugs regulator that it is safe and effective. There are fears however that Nice – Britain's drugs rationing body – will judge it too expensive for routine use on the NHS. Liraglutide costs from £2.25 a day, which is roughly double the price of Orlistat, the only other prescription diet drug. Patients inject the drug into their stomach before breakfast every day. It works by suppressing appetite. Liraglutide, which will be given the brand name Saxenda, is already used at a lower dose to treat diabetes. It is based on a hormone found in the gut and sends signals to the brain that trick it into feeling full. As a result, people eat 10 per cent less food than normal. Trials of Liraglutide found that men and women who injected themselves daily lost an average of 19lb in 12 months. This is almost a stone more than they would lose by being on a diet and increasing the amount they exercise. Furthermore one third or those who took part in the trials shed 23lb – more than a stone and a half. For a 14 stone woman that kind of weight loss would usually mean dropping two dress sizes. The drug which, like insulin, comes in an injectable pen, also has such a significant effect on blood pressure that patients can dispense with the drugs they use to keep it under control. Like Orlistat, its prescription is likely to be limited to those who are obese or who are overweight and have another health problem such as high blood pressure."

The fact that this drug is already in use to treat diabetics is a plus factor as there may not be any serious side effects. Also encouraging is the fact that Novo Nordisk of Denmark, a reputed international firm has developed this therapy adds further confidence in the product. As a bonus it seems patients using this drug had also lower blood pressure and higher HDL values.besides preventing on-set of diabetes. Of course there is this uncomfortable feeling when patients have to administer this injection in the stomach before breakfast. The innovators have cautioned that the new drug is not for use by healthy individuals for indulging in gluttony but for obese patients who have difficulties in moving and doing their daily chores.


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