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Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Wegovy, a version of a diabetes medicine that can now be marketed and sold as a weight-loss drug in the United States.

Why it matters: The drug helped certain people lose an average of 15% of their body weight over multiple weeks when used alongside increased physical activity and a reduced calorie meal plan.

How it works: The drug, a higher-dose version of Novo Nordisk's diabetes medicine semaglutide, is meant for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 27 kg/m2 or greater and at least one weight-related ailment or people with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater.

  • Taken weekly, it works by mimicking a gut hormone that targets areas of the brain that control appetite and food intake and is intended for long-term weight management.
  • Those who took Wegovy and exercised and dieted in company-funded studies lost significantly more weight over 14 weeks than those who took a placebo while exercising and dieting.

What they're saying: “Today’s approval offers adults with obesity or overweight a beneficial new treatment option to incorporate into a weight management program,” John Sharretts, deputy director of the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said.

  • Yes, but: Dr. Archana Sadhu, head of the diabetes program at Houston Methodist Hospital, told AP that the drugs' effectiveness will largely depend on its price.
  • Novo Nordisk has not yet disclosed Wegovy’s price.

The big picture: Approximately 70% of American adults are obese or overweight, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, according to the FDA.

  • Losing 5% body weight through diet and exercise has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in obese or overweight adults.
  • Wegovy is the first drug approved by the FDA for chronic weight management since 2014.

Go deeper

Aug 25, 2021 - Health

Age thresholds for certain health screenings are getting younger

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Americans are being asked to get screened for certain diseases earlier in their lives as emerging evidence shows they are at increasing risk for diseases historically seen in older adults.

Driving the news: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Tuesday lowered the recommended starting age to screen for Type 2 diabetes from age 40 to 35, and said overweight or obese adults at risk for prediabetes should be screened at ages 35 to 70.

Schumer vows to confirm Breyer replacement "with all deliberate speed"

Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded Wednesday to reports that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, commending his time on the bench and promising to confirm President Biden's nominated replacement "with all deliberate speed."

Why it matters: The opportunity to appoint a new Supreme Court justice will be one of the longest-lasting pieces of Biden's legacy and could energize Democrats ahead of the midterms.

35 mins ago - World

Scoop: Israel's "top priority" mission to discredit UN probe

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the UN. Photo: John Minchillo/Pool via Getty

Israel is planning a campaign to discredit a UN commission formed to investigate the violence in Gaza last May and the root causes of the protracted conflict in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, according to an Israeli Foreign Ministry cable seen by Axios.

Why it matters: Israeli officials say they are highly concerned that the commission’s report will refer to Israel as an "Apartheid state" and that its findings could damage Israel's reputation, particularly among progressives in the West. The report is expected in June.