Prescriptions for weight loss, diabetes drugs for young people leaped 600% since 2020, study says


In the United States, the number of young people prescribed GLP-1 agonist drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic to lose weight and fight diabetes increased by 594.4% in just three years, according to a new study.

Demand for these drugs has soared recently for people of all ages, but the study, which was published Wednesday in JAMA, it was noted that between 2020 and 2023, the number of prescriptions written for people aged 12 to 25 increased from 8,722 to 60,567.

Young women and adolescent girls experienced the greatest increase in the number of prescriptions.

The study examined information from a database that reports prescriptions from more than 93% of retail pharmacies in the United States, although the data cannot indicate exactly what the prescriptions were intended to treat and whether the patient actually used the medications.

For context, the study authors also looked at trends in prescribing other medications and found a 3% decrease in prescribing other medications. other medications for this age group during this same period.

The study examined Ozempic (which uses the active ingredient semaglutide), Trulicity (dulaglutide) and Byetta (exenatide), which are approved to treat type 2 diabetes and may help with weight loss, and Saxenda (liraglutide) and Wegovy (semaglutide), which are approved for weight management. Each can be prescribed for children aged 10 or 12. Tirzepatide, sold under the names Zepbound and Mounjaro, is approved only for adults.

The authors from the University of Michigan Medical School and Yale University said that given the number of young people who are prescribed these medications, efforts to promote safe and appropriate prescribing should include endocrinologists, family medicine physicians and nurse practitioners.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes affect a growing number of young people. The number of people ages 10 to 19 with type 2 diabetes has doubled over the past two decades in the United States, according to a 2023 study. The study predicts that by 2060, the number of young people with type 2 diabetes will increase by 673%.

Obesity is also a significant problem for young people in the United States, where the average young adult is now overweight, according to a 2023 study. According to studies, approximately 1 in 6 adolescents are overweight and almost 1 in 5 are obese. Obesity alone affects 14.4 million children and adolescents in the United States.

Being obese in a young person significantly increases the risk of weight problems as they get older, according to a study. Obesity and being overweight can also be a significant risk factor for other health problems like heart disease, kidney problems and even cancer, studies show, in addition to mental health problems.

Dr. Melanie Cree, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado who has worked with this class of drugs in clinical trials with children for nearly a decade, says the drugs have been a game-changer not only in helping children to lose weight and reduce blood. sugar, but also to reduce liver fat and improve heart and kidney function – “all conditions that accompany type 2 diabetes”.

“So it’s not just that they lower blood sugar. It’s that they seem to decrease the complications that we see from type 2 diabetes, so they really affect multiple aspects,” said Cree, who was not involved in the new study. “They are truly changing the face of what diabetes looks like in an individual and in the field of diabetes at all levels.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines for obesity management last year and said that in addition to behavioral and lifestyle treatments for the whole family, the use of Weight loss medication is appropriate for children 12 years and older.

Cree said she sees little downside to these drugs. Some of her patients have had to stop taking them or can’t take as much because of side effects like nausea, and she would like to see more research on this topic.

When his patients can access it, Cree said, the positive changes have been significant. Many have experienced “profound” weight loss, she said, transforming their lives.

The biggest drawbacks have nothing to do with the physical impact of the drugs; rather, it’s that the drugs can be expensive and many of its patients can’t get insurance to cover the cost, particularly if they’re used for weight loss. Additionally, many patients are struggling to fill their prescriptions due to drug shortages.

A parent of a child who lost a lot of weight told Cree the drug gave her daughter back.

“I had another daughter who, after losing a little weight, went to prom last fall, and it was her first time dancing, because it was her first once she felt comfortable wearing a dress,” Cree said. “Really very poignant stories from these teenagers. I just feel privileged to be part of their lives and to be able to share these transformations and moments with them.

News Source :
Gn Health

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