Creators of slimming medicines Ozempic and Wegovy win an important prize in Spain

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Ozempic and Wegovy

The scientists behind the development of anti-obesity drugs based on semaglutide, Ozempic and Wegovy have been awarded the Princess of Asturias Prize for Scientific and Technical Research 2024 for their groundbreaking work.

According to the jury of the Princess of Asturias Prize, recent years have seen significant progress with the introduction of drugs using semaglutide. This is a peptide similar to the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). “This peptide acts as a counterbalance to insulin in the sugar balance,” said the jury. Semaglutide also significantly reduces appetite, which has contributed to its effectiveness in weight loss.

Popular drugs with challenges

Ozempic, originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, also proved to be highly effective against obesity. Consequently, that led to a huge increase in demand for the drug. However, this caused a shortage for diabetics. To meet demand, Wegovy, a variant of Ozempic specifically for weight management, was approved.

Differences between Ozempic and Wegovy

Both drugs are produced by Novo Nordisk and administered via a pre-filled pen that is injected subcutaneously every week. Despite sharing the same active ingredient, their indications differ. Ozempic is used for type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy is prescribed for weight control in obese or overweight adults with additional health problems such as high blood pressure or sleep apnea.

Who are the award-winning scientists?

  • Daniel J. Drucker: Born in Montreal, Canada, with a distinguished career in research and teaching at the University of Toronto.
  • Jeffrey M. Friedman: Born in Orlando, USA, affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Rockefeller University.
  • Joel F. Habener: Born in the US, with a long career in research and teaching at Harvard University.
    Jens Juul Holst: Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, known for his work at the University of Copenhagen and co-founder of several biotech companies.
  • Svetlana Mojsov: Born in Skopje, North Macedonia, specialised in peptide synthesis and recognized for her work on GLP-1.

Importance of the prize

The work of these scientists has led to groundbreaking treatments for diabetes and obesity. In addition, a better understanding of human metabolism and the role of hormones in the regulation of body weight resulted. With this prize, the jury hopes to draw more attention to the need for continued investment in research and the development of new treatments that can improve the health and well-being of people worldwide.

Use of the medicines in Spain

In Spain, the use of the drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, both of which contain the active ingredient semaglutide, are approved for different purposes. Ozempic is used to treat type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy is approved for chronic weight management in overweight or obese adults with at least one weight-related comorbid condition1.

Wegovy has been available in Spain with a doctor’s prescription since May 2024. It is important to emphasise that a pharmacological treatment such as Wegovy must always be prescribed by a doctor and accompanied by a balanced diet, physical exercises and health monitoring. There are certain side effects that users should be aware of, which is why medical supervision is essential.

The Princess of Asturias Awards in Spain

The Princess of Asturias Awards in Spain go to 8 categories annually, including literature, sports, social sciences and international cooperation. Princess Leonor of Spain, the Princess of Asturias, presents the prizes. She is the eldest daughter of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia and the heir apparent to the Spanish throne. The ceremony will take place in Oviedo, the capital of the autonomous community of Asturias. The awards are intended to honour individuals, groups or organisations who have made exceptional contributions in various areas of human endeavour.

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