Novo Nordisk's diabetes drug Ozempic slashed the risk of kidney disease problems

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This picture taken on October 23, 2023, shows Ozempic medication boxes, an injectable antidiabetic drug, in a pharmacy in Riedisheim in eastern France.Sebastien Bozon | Afp | Getty Images

Novo Nordisk's blockbuster drug Ozempic cut the risk of kidney disease progression and related health complications in diabetic patients, according to initial late-stage trial results released Tuesday. 

Ozempic specifically lowered the risk of kidney disease progression and death from kidney or cardiovascular complications by 24% in diabetic patients with chronic kidney disease compared to a placebo. 

The results add to the growing evidence that the highly popular injection and similar drugs for weight loss have broader health benefits for patients beyond treating Type 2 diabetes and helping them shed pounds. Those treatments skyrocketed in popularity over the past year despite their mixed insurance coverage and hefty price tags.

Novo Nordisk's diabetes drug Ozempic slashed the risk of kidney disease problems

Novo Nordisk said it will present full data from the study later this year. The company also noted that it would file for an expanded approval of Ozempic based on the data in both the U.S. and Europe.

Chronic kidney disease would be a big additional treatment opportunity for Ozempic. Roughly 40% of people with diabetes also have the condition. The disease involves a gradual loss of kidney function.

Notably, the Danish company ended the trial in October, a year earlier than expected, in response to positive results.

The trial, called FLOW, first started in 2019 and followed roughly 3,500 patients with diabetes and moderate to severe chronic kidney disease.

The data comes as Novo Nordisk faces increased competition from Eli Lilly and tries to win expanded insurance coverage for its separate weight loss injection Wegovy.

Last year, a late-stage trial on Wegovy showed that it cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 20%. 

Clarification: This story was updated to reflect trial information Novo Nordisk clarified from an earlier press release.

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