WHO has good news for patients battling obesity; Know why
There is some good news for people struggling with obesity! According to Reuters, the World Health Organization (WHO) may for the first time include the drugs that combat obesity in its "essential medicines list." Next month, a panel of WHO advisors will evaluate new requests for drugs to be included, with a revised list of essential medicines due in September.
Why does this story matter?
- Over 650 million people globally are obese, which is more than triple the number in 1975, per the WHO. Another 1.3 billion people are overweight.
- Notably, 70% of them live in low- and middle-income countries, so including weight loss medications in the WHO's essential medications could be a game-changer for them.
- However, some public health professionals have cautioned against the introduction of such medications.
WHO may include obesity drugs in 'essential list' next month
According to Reuters, the WHO will review a request to include obesity medications filed by three doctors and a researcher in the United States next month. It can reject it or request more proof. The proposal is related to the active ingredient liraglutide in Novo Nordisk's obesity medication "Saxenda," which will soon be off patent, allowing for cheaper generic versions.
Proposal aims to pave way for newer, more powerful treatment
The proposal by the US researchers is also reportedly aimed at clearing the way for a newer, more powerful treatment, dubbed "Wegovy," from Novo Nordisk, to be suggested for low- and middle-income nations in the future. However, some public health experts have expressed strong reservations about using such medications as a treatment for a complex disease that is still poorly understood.
US researchers say favorable decision will bring huge changes
The experts, who submitted the request argued that adding HIV drugs to the list in 2002 widely helped AIDS patients in poorer countries, and a favorable decision for obesity drugs will bring similar changes. One of the researchers, Dr Sanjana Garimella stated that there are currently no medications on the (list) that specifically target weight loss for the ongoing global obesity battle.
Will widen weight-loss treatment plan in future: WHO
Meanwhile, a WHO representative stated that obesity is becoming an increasingly serious health issue in many nations. "Medicines for the treatment of obesity are only one aspect of management, of course, and prevention is also crucial," he said. The WHO stated that in the future, the expert group would pursue a wider evaluation of other kinds of weight-loss treatments.