Ozempic, Zepbound, and other GLP‑1 drugs created a lot of headlines in 2023. While many of those stories centered on weight loss, the class of drugs is poised to capture news coverage for other reasons in 2024. Six phase three clinical trials are currently underway to see how specific GLP-1s may impact diseases that can be complications of diabetes or obesity.
Below is an overview of GLP-1s undergoing clinical trials that could impact everything from cardiovascular risks to sleep apnea.
Cardiovascular Disease Trials
Eli Lilly has two drugs, Mounjaro, approved for diabetes, and Zepbound, approved for weight loss, which are both in phase-three clinical trials related to cardiovascular risks. One trial looks at Mounjaro as a treatment for cardiovascular complications in patients with diabetes. The other looks at Zepbound as a potential treatment for heart failure in patients with obesity.
In November, Novo Nordisk announced the results of a clinical trial of Wegovy. The study tested Wegovy in people with obesity and heart disease but who did not have diabetes. Weekly injections of Wegovy slashed the overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular causes by 20%. Many medical experts anticipate the FDA will approve the drug for use in preventing cardiovascular disease, leading to insurers to cover the drug.
Other Potential Benefits on the Horizon
- Zepbound is also the subject of a phase-three trial as a treatment for non-alcoholic liver disease in patients with obesity.
- Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic is in a phase-three trial as a kidney failure treatment for patients with diabetes who have chronic kidney disease
- Another phase-three trial of Zepbound explores its potential as a treatment for sleep apnea in patients with obesity.
Gaining Insight into Duration of Usage
More studies are needed to understand the long-term effects of GLP-1s on patients who do not have diabetes. Data is also needed to better guide medication usage or discontinuation once a weight loss patient achieves their target weight.
Addressing Supply Issues
Due to the sharp demand for GLP-1s, many diabetes and obesity patients have struggled to access these drugs. Both Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly say they have plans to expand facilities and ramp up production. However, it will take time to increase production capacity, so supply chain issues will continue for now.
Many PBMs are creating prior authorization protocols to help ensure that the patients who most need GLP-1s are able to access them.
Other Weight Loss Drug Trends to Watch
Other developments in 2024 include studies around two new oral weight loss medications. Pfizer is expected to release trial data on a once-daily oral weight loss pill known as danuglipron. Also, in the first half of 2024, Amjen is slated to release early clinical trial data on an oral weight loss medication. The company will also release mid-stage trial data later in 2024 on an injectable weight loss drug.
Learn More in Our Webinar
To learn more about obesity and its impact in the workplace, register for True Rx’s Jan. 31 webinar, Hottest Health Strategies in 2024: Managing Obesity. Register today.
You can also learn more about GLP‑1 drugs and factors to consider in plan coverage in our latest white paper, Ozempic and Other GLP‑1 Drugs: All Hype or Actually Helpful?