Advisers to the World Health Organization will consider next month whether to include liraglutide, the active ingredient in some diabetes and obesity drugs, on the list of essential medicines.
The list, which is updated every two years, includes medicines “that meet the primary health needs of the population,” WHO says. “They are intended to be available in the context of functioning health systems at all times, in appropriate dosage forms in sufficient quantities, of assured quality and at prices that individuals and communities can afford.”
List “A guide for the development and updating of national and institutional essential medicines lists to support the procurement and supply of medicines in the public sector, medicines reimbursement schemes, medicine donations and local medicine production.”
The WHO Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines is scheduled to meet on April 24-28 to discuss amendments and updates to dozens of medicines. Prayer To add GLP-1 receptor agonists such as liraglutide come from four researchers at US institutions including Yale University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
These drugs mimic the effects of the appetite-regulating hormone, GLP-1, and stimulate the release of insulin. It helps lower blood sugar and slows the passage of food through the gut. Liraglutide was developed to treat diabetes but was approved in the US in 2014 as a weight loss treatment; Its more potent cousin, semaglutide, has been approved for diabetes since 2017 and as an obesity treatment in 2021.
The latter use has become well known for promotion by celebrities and on social media. It is sold under the names Ozempic for diabetes and Vegovy for weight loss., Studies show that semaglutide can help people lose an average of 10% to 15% of their starting weight – much more than other drugs. But because of this high demand, some versions of the drug have been in short supply in the US since the middle of last year.
The US patent on liraglutide is due to expire this year, and drug maker Novo Nordisk says generic versions could be available in June 2024.
“Currently, there are no drugs involved in [Essential Medicines List] which specifically targets weight loss for the global burden of obesity,” the researchers wrote in their request to WHO. “At this time, EML includes mineral supplements to make up for nutritional deficiencies, yet it also described that the majority of the population ‘live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than those who are underweight.’ ,
WHO advisors will make recommendations on which drugs should be included in this year’s list come September.
“This particular drug has a certain history, but its use probably isn’t high enough to be able to see it on the essential drugs list,” Dr. Francesco Blanca, WHO director for nutrition and food security, said at a briefing on Wednesday. “There are also issues related to the cost of treatment. At the same time, WHO is considering the use of drugs to reduce excess weight in the context of a systematic review of guidelines for children and adolescents. We therefore believe that this is a work in progress. But we will see what the Essential Medicines List Committee is going to conclude.