Back to top

New weight-loss drugs linked with fewer alcohol use problems

Diabetes and weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy from Novo Nordisk appear to be linked with lower rates of new or recurrent cases of alcohol abuse or dependence, a new study suggests.

The study was not a randomized trial, so the researchers cannot prove the drugs prevented these outcomes, as noted in a report published in Nature Communications.

However, their analysis of data from electronic health records of nearly 84,000 patients with obesity found that in the year after starting treatment, those who received semaglutide - the active ingredient in both drugs - had 50% to 56% decreases in the initiation or recurrence of alcohol-use disorder, compared to patients treated with other anti-obesity medications.

Similar results were seen when the researchers analyzed electronic health records from nearly 600,000 patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients treated with semaglutide had fewer alcohol-use disorder diagnoses.

Makers of the new weight-loss drugs have been testing them for other medical uses, such as heart disease and sleep apnea, which could make it more likely that employers and insurers will pay for them.

“While the findings are promising and provide preliminary evidence of the potential benefit of semaglutide in (treating alcohol use disorder) in real-world populations, further randomized clinical trials are needed to support its use clinically,” study co-author Dr. Pamela Davis of the Case Western University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio said in a statement.