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2015
Dec-29
A new drug to treat Obesity!
By Dr. Tom Babu, MD, DNB (Endo)| 0 Comments

Obesity in the community is reaching epidemic proportions. Developing countries like India are seeing a sudden rise in the number of obese people (with a BMI above 33). It is perhaps the rapid urbanisation that is the root cause of this epidemic. Simply put, it the lack of exercise and increase in the caloric content of the food that seems to be the root cause of this problem.As far as the drug treatment goes, it has been unrewarding so far with many drugs coming in only to be quickly withdrawn. We are left with a few oral medication for obesity treatment which is very modestly effective (2 to 3 kilos weight loss in a 12 month period). Specialists in the treatment of obesity (Endocrinologists) were using these oral agents in treating people with mild obesity. It is often found to be unrewarding to treat patients with obesity with these oral drugs because of weight regain.A new injectable drug called Liraglutide has been approved for use. It is very similar to a hormone produced in our small intestine (incretin). This hormone acts at various sites in our body (including the brain and stomach). It primarily acts by reducing appetite. It is also seen to reduce Leptin levels (another hormone involved in obesity) in the body.Studies done with Liraglutide both in India and abroad have shown significant weight reduction with this drug. On an average, the weight reduction is around 6 to 8 kilos in a period of 6 months. This weight reduction is by far the best that we can achieve by non surgical options. It works very well in obese diabetic individuals because the blood sugar levels come under control with this drug as well.Liraglutide has a very good safety profile with very few side effects. The only down side is that it is an injectable to be taken daily. It is quite costly as well. It brings a “breath of fresh air” to us treating obesity despite its minor disadvantages. It is likely that a section of obese individuals are likely to benefit from this new agent.

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