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Ozempic cuts kidney-disease risks, research finds

By Eleanor Laise

Diabetes treatment slows progression of kidney disease and reduces risk of death, study shows

Novo Nordisk's diabetes drug Ozempic reduces the risk of kidney failure and death in patients who have both Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, according to new research published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Patients taking Ozempic had a 24% lower risk of severe kidney outcomes and death from cardiovascular or kidney causes, compared with those on placebo, according to the study, which was sponsored by Novo Nordisk and presented Friday at a European Renal Association conference in Stockholm. People taking Ozempic also had a slower rate of kidney-function decline and had an 18% lower risk of heart attack and other major cardiovascular events, the study found.

The results show "a profound clinical impact saving kidneys, hearts and lives, for patients with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease," Vlado Perkovic, co-author of the study and professor at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, said in a statement. The research provides full details on the study, after top-line results were released in March.

Chronic kidney disease, which raises the risk of heart disease, stroke and other health problems, affects about 14% of U.S. adults - or more than 35 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Current kidney-disease treatments can help protect the kidneys and cut cardiovascular risks, but many patients continue to have declining kidney function -leaving room for popular GLP-1 drugs to potentially improve treatment options.

The new study data showing improvements in both cardiovascular and kidney outcomes make "a compelling case" for expansion of Ozempic's label to treat this group of patients, BMO Capital Markets analyst Evan David Seigerman said in a note Friday. The data are also "a positive for the broader use of GLP-1 medications for improving patient risk" from chronic kidney disease, Seigerman wrote.

The research adds to Novo Nordisk's growing arsenal of evidence that the benefits of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic as well as obesity treatment Wegovy, go well beyond diabetes and weight loss. The drug has also been found to cut the risk of heart attack, stroke or death due to cardiovascular disease in people who do not have diabetes and to reduce the symptoms of heart failure.

Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) is also studying whether tirzepatide, the active ingredient in its diabetes treatment Mounjaro and weight-loss drug Zepbound, may help fight chronic kidney disease in people with obesity, with or without Type 2 diabetes.

Novo Nordisk's American depositary receipts (NVO) fell 0.5% premarket Friday, while Lilly shares gained 0.5%.

Dialysis-related stocks gained ground in the wake of the new research. Fresenius Medical Care AG shares (FMS) climbed more than 4% premarket Friday, while DaVita Inc. stock (DVA) was up 5.4%.

-Eleanor Laise

This content was created by MarketWatch, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is published independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.


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05-25-24 0910ET

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