Two New Weight Loss Treatments Show Promise
Over the summer, the FDA approved Wegovy injections for chronic weight management, the first such drug approved since 2014. Manufactured by Novo Nordisk, the drug works by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which helps regulate appetite. It was studied in four 68-week trials.
Meanwhile, the 2019-FDA-cleared Plenity, a non-medication ingestible weight loss device, is set to expand sales nationwide by the end of 2021. Currently available only by online prescription via its website, manufacturer Gelesis expects to reach 100% capacity by December 2021, with more expansion expected in 2022. Plenity already has 48,000 users and a partnership with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers). The capsules taken before meals help users feel full and eat less, according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Medication After Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty Boosts Weight Loss
A new study suggests that patients who take GLP-1 agonist semaglutide after endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty lost more weight and decreased body fat a year after surgery.
First presented during virtual Digestive Disease Week 2021 and then published in the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy in June, the small study of 58 patients found a mean total body weight loss of 25.2% for those taking the drug after the surgery, compared to 18.6% loss for those who only had the surgery.
While further studies are needed, study author Anna Carolina Hoff, MD, founder and Clinical Director of Angioskope Brazil, São José dos Campos, told Medscape Medical News that “this approach gives patients a chance to act earlier before obesity takes over.”
Bundled Payments for Bariatric Surgery May Cut Costs
Encouraging employees to use specific providers with agreed-to set costs for bariatric surgery saves employees and employers money, according to a study by the RAND Corporation.
“Bundled payments are gaining popularity in the Medicare system, but have not been adopted as widely by private insurance plans,” wrote Christopher M. Whaley, the study’s lead author and a policy researcher at RAND.
Using a program that waives patient copays, negotiates pricing and bundles all care — like surgery, hospital stays and aftercare for 30 days — together, total costs were reduced by over 10% and patient payments decreased nearly 28%. The study looked at total knee and hip replacement, spinal fusion, and bariatric weight loss procedures. It also found employers saved around $7 for every $1 waived in patient copays.