Excitement is building about a new generation of drugs that tout the ability to help adults with excess weight shed more pounds than older drugs on the market.
Some patients, obesity medicine specialists say, are experiencing decreases in blood pressure, better-managed diabetes, less joint pain, and better sleep from these newfound treatments.
The newer drugs, which are repurposed diabetes drugs, “are showing weight loss unlike any other medications we’ve had in the past,” said David Creel, a psychologist and registered dietitian in the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.
Yet for him and other experts, the thrill is tempered.
That’s because no single drug is a magic solution by itself, and it’s possible many patients will need to take the drugs long term to maintain results. On top of that, the newest treatments are often very costly and often not covered by insurance.
The five-figure annual costs of the new medications are also raising concern about access for patients and what widespread use could mean for the nation’s overall health care tab.
Evaluating the trade-offs — weighing the value of better health and possibly fewer complications of obesity down the road against the upfront drug costs — will increasingly come into play as insurers, employers, government programs, and others who pay health care bills consider which treatments to cover.
“If you pay too much for a drug, everyone’s health insurance goes up. Then people drop off hea …