June 13, 2023 – Might the category of latest weight reduction medicine together with semaglutide – authorized as Ozempic to deal with kind 2 diabetes and Wegovy to deal with weight problems – additionally curb addictions and compulsive behaviors?

As demand for semaglutide for weight reduction grew after Wegovy was authorized by the FDA in June 2021, private accounts of sudden added advantages additionally started to floor for the category of medicines often called GLP-1s, which mimic a pure hormone known as glucagon-like peptide-1 that helps an individual really feel full. 

Some sufferers taking these medicine for kind 2 diabetes or weight reduction additionally misplaced curiosity in addictive and compulsive behaviors corresponding to ingesting alcohol, smoking, procuring, nail biting, and pores and skin choosing, as reported in articles in The New York Occasionsand The Atlantic, amongst others. For now, the studies are merely anecdotal, so that they’re subjective and never but clinically verified. However there’s additionally some early analysis to assist these observations.

Current and Upcoming Research

“I hope that GLP-1 analogs sooner or later can be utilized towards [alcohol use disorder], however earlier than that may occur, a number of GLP-1 trials [are needed to] show an impact on alcohol consumption,” mentioned Anders Fink-Jensen, MD, the senior writer of a latest randomized managed trial of 127 sufferers with alcohol use dysfunction, or AUD. 

His examine concerned sufferers receiving 26 weeks of the first-generation GLP-1 agonist exenatide authorized for kind 2 diabetes, however this didn’t scale back the variety of heavy ingesting days, in comparison with a placebo.

However in analyses achieved after the examine ended, heavy ingesting days and whole alcohol consumption had been considerably decreased within the subgroup of sufferers with AUD and weight problems as decided by a physique mass index, or BMI, over 30. 

The individuals had been additionally proven footage of alcohol or impartial topics whereas that they had practical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Those that had acquired exenatide vs. a placebo had considerably much less activation of their brains’ reward facilities when proven the photographs of alcohol. 

This exhibits that “one thing is occurring within the mind and activation of the reward heart is hampered by the GLP-1 compound,” mentioned Fink-Jensen, a medical psychologist on the Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen in Denmark.

“If sufferers with AUD already fulfill the standards for semaglutide (or different GLP-1 analogs) by having kind 2 diabetes and/or a BMI over 30, they will in fact use the compound proper now,” he mentioned.

His workforce can also be starting a examine, in sufferers with AUD and a BMI of 30 or above, to analyze the consequences of semaglutide as much as 2.4 milligrams weekly on alcohol consumption. That is the utmost dose of semaglutide authorized for weight problems within the U.S.

“Based mostly on the efficiency of exenatide and semaglutide,” Fink-Jensen mentioned, “we count on that semaglutide will trigger a stronger discount in alcohol consumption” than exenatide. 

Animal research have additionally proven that GLP-1 agonists suppress alcohol-induced reward, alcohol consumption, motivation to eat alcohol, alcohol looking for, and relapse ingesting of alcohol, based on researcher Elisabet Jerlhag Holm, PhD.

These brokers additionally suppress the reward, consumption, and motivation to eat different addictive medicine like cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine, and a few opioids, mentioned Jerlhag Holm, a professor within the Division of Pharmacology on the College of Gothenburg in Sweden. 

Her group just lately printed outcomes of a examine achieved in rats that gives proof to assist clarify the anecdotal studies from sufferers with weight problems handled with semaglutide who claimed in addition they decreased their alcohol consumption. Within the examine, semaglutide each decreased alcohol consumption (and relapse-like ingesting) and decreased physique weight of rats of each sexes. 

“Future analysis ought to discover the opportunity of semaglutide reducing alcohol consumption in sufferers with AUD, notably those that are chubby,” Jerlhag Holm mentioned. 

“AUD is a … dysfunction [involving various components], and one treatment is most certainly not useful for all AUD sufferers,” she mentioned, “and subsequently an arsenal of various drugs is helpful when treating AUD sufferers.”

Janice J. Hwang, MD, MHS, echoed these ideas.

“Anecdotally, there are plenty of studies from sufferers (and within the information) that this class of treatment impacts cravings and will influence addictive behaviors,” she mentioned. 

Nonetheless, “I feel it’s a lot too early to inform” whether or not these medicine is perhaps authorized for treating sufferers for addictions with out extra strong medical trial knowledge, mentioned Hwang, an affiliate professor of medication and chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism on the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

In the meantime, one other analysis group on the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led by psychiatrist Christian Hendershot, PhD, is conducting a medical trial in 48 individuals with AUD who’re additionally people who smoke. 

They goal to find out if sufferers who obtain semaglutide pictures at more and more greater doses over 9 weeks will drink much less alcohol and smoke lower than those that obtain a placebo shot. Outcomes are anticipated in October. 

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