Obesity has swiftly become one of the most prevalent health problems in the United States. With nearly three quarters of Americans being categorized as clinically obese, according to a recent study, some patients have long been seeking effective weight-loss treatment.
A new treatment has recently been approved by the FDA and deemed an absolute game changer in the world of weight-loss drugs. Wegovy is a new weight-management therapy that was manufactured by Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company. The drug, also called semaglutide, has already been used as an anti-diabetes treatment in the U.S. and other countries for many years. In recent clinical application, however, the drug has proven to be an effective appetite suppressant, and therefore, an effective weight-management treatment.
A study on over 2,000 obese adults presented earlier this year showed that using Wegovy resulted in an average of 15% weight loss for subjects, with 30% losing 20% or more of body weight. The implications that this has for those seeking to lose weight far surpass other treatments in the field, with 13% more weight loss documented than the placebo group.
Unfortunately, it may be a while before this drug is accessible to the every-day American. Despite obesity being considered a disease by healthcare professionals, many insurance companies in the United States do not cover weight-loss treatment, denouncing it as cosmetic, like hair loss treatment. Most insurance companies cover preventative treatments for obesity, rather than reactive ones.
Because of this, many pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to develop weight-loss medications, as they will not be accessible to enough people to make a profit on a larger scale, with most not being able to afford the prices of many treatment plans. Wegovy is no stranger to this, with the current price reportedly set at over $1,100 a month, with no insurance coverage currently accepted.
The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2021 is a bill currently in Congress which could be the ticket to giving weight-loss management a larger foothold in the healthcare realm. The bill proposes that obesity medication should be covered as a treatment under Medicaid, whose recipients are reportedly 27% more at risk of obesity than those utilizing commercial insurance. Until these changes can be implemented, however, this groundbreaking drug may not reach as many hands as it needs to.