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Semaglutide Science and Research


Where has this miracle drug been all our lives? We can all thank Dr. Daniel Drucker, a research scientist, endocrinologist and clinician who trained at Johns Hopkins and has a research laboratory in Toronto for unlocking the secret to weight loss through GLP-1A drugs.  He started his research with the poisonous venom of the Gila Monster in 1995. Ten years later, he had developed a synthetic version of that venom and it was the first drug of its class approved for treatment of diabetes, Byetta, trademarked and marketed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.  This drug was the first of its kind to be approved and was quickly noticed for the side effect of weight loss.  In 2021 the FDA approved Semaglutide, another synthetic GLP-1A drug that was approved to treat obesity (read more below).  Thank you, Dr. Drucker, for changing the lives of so many people, and very likely, saving the lives of many!

When Byetta was approved in 2005, patients were noted to be experiencing weight loss along with greatly improved glucose control. This observation is what led researchers to pursue how this class of drugs could be used in non-diabetic patients. At first, the FDA approved the use of GLP-1A medications for obese patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiac risk factors. But clinicians all over the world know that obesity often comes before a diabetes diagnosis, so prevention of diabetes is an important goal for every healthcare provider.  At the conclusion of the STEP (Semaglutide Treatment Effect on People) phase 3 clinical trial in March 2021, semaglutide was found to be a significantly effective treatment for chronic obesity.  This was the proof the FDA needed to give its approval. 


The graphs and charts below illustrate the differences between the Semaglutide group and the placebo (the “control”) group:

graph of weight loss study results

While the STEP clinical trial was in progress, a parallel trial was being carried out on adolescents aged 12-17 who had no other medical reason for obesity.  Adolescents with a history of diabetes, elevated blood glucose or endocrine disorders that may cause obesity were excluded from participating in the trial. The study results have not been posted, but the FDA has now approved semaglutide use to treat obesity in adolescents 12 and over who are 95% or greater of their BMI. 

 SourceNew England Journal of Medicine: Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adolescents with Obesity

In 2021, Wegovy (semaglutide) injection, in addition to dietary changes and exercise, was approved for treatment of chronic weight management in non-diabetic adults who are overweight or obese.  In 2022, CDER expanded the population to patients aged 12 years and older.

Source: FDA approves Semaglutide use in obese teens.

Teens with Obesity Approved for Semaglutide

What other professionals are saying about Semaglutide

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