The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network recently released the results from a Phase II clinical trial involving an oral drug for weight loss developed by global pharmaceutical firm Pfizer.

Based on the results of the study which were initially presented at a professional conference in 2022, the Pfizer pill appears to deliver the same level of weight loss as Novo Nordisk’s revolutionary Ozempic injectable. 

It should be noted, however, that Pfizer’s research and development team did not directly compare their product with others developed by Novo Nordisk or any other pharma firm.

In any case, Pfizer’s product – should it be approved for the market – could be seen as a viable alternative to getting an intravenous shot to help people lose weight.

Tale of the Tape

Pfizer’s Phase II trial involved more than 400 adults suffering from Type II diabetes. These were given either the actual danuglipron tablet twice a day, or a placebo.

Researchers noted how individual body weight was significantly reduced after participants were given either the 120mg or the 80mg dose of the drug over a sixteen-week period. Indeed, those given the 120mg formulation lost an average of ten pounds each throughout the duration of the study.

While researchers say that danuglipron has a similar rate of effectiveness as Ozempic and similar preparations, there is a stark difference with regard to the standard dosage level.

Timely, but Controversial

While weight loss solutions aren’t exactly new on the market, Novo Nordisk’s products Ozempic and Wegovy have recently hogged the headlines thanks to the slew of celebrities and social media influencers who are touting their merits in terms of shedding pounds faster. Indeed, at a time when healthcare practitioners are trying to reduce obesity in the United States, the appearance of such treatments is timely – but these also come with a great deal of controversy.

Ozempic, for one, was specifically developed to combat diabetes (Type II) in adults; but the drug is now being used off-label to help patients lose weight.

Wegovy, Novo Nordisk’s other ace in the weight loss game, actually has the same formulation as Ozempic. But this product is openly marketed as a solution for chronic weight management.

Both medications and Pfizer’s danuglipron belong to a pharmaceutical class referred to as glucagon-like peptide-1 antagonists. When these enter the bloodstream, they mimic the actions of glucagon, a hormone that signals to the brain when a person is full. As these deliver a feeling of satiety, they essentially work as appetite suppressants.

While these look beneficial on paper, healthcare professionals warn that the open use of such medications could complicate an already controversial diet culture and adversely impact the health of many people. Likewise, some patients have reported weight rebound after discontinuing their use of Ozempic and Wegovy.