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Amid rising demand for drugs like Wegovy, Ozempic, and Mounjaro that can lead to significant weight loss, some obesity experts are concerned about the drugs’ costs — both to patients’ finances and to their health.

Speaking at a panel on new obesity treatments at the STAT Breakthrough Summit in San Francisco on Thursday, one expert cited a large clinical trial for Wegovy that showed that about 40% of the weight participants lost was lean mass. Side effects like nausea, vomiting, and a possible link to rare cases of pancreatitis also still plague this newest class of drugs, which imitate the effects of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP) that helps people feel full.


“That’s what starvation does. You lose equal amounts of muscle and fat,” said Robert Lustig, emeritus professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “If you’re a person 60 years old or over and you’re losing muscle, your risk of dying just went up exponentially. So we may be … robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

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