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expert reaction to Novo Nordisk press release announcing the headline results from their SELECT cardiovascular outcomes semaglutide trial

The press release from Novo Nordisk states that semaglutide 2.4 mg reduces the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events by 20% in adults with overweight or obesity.


Prof Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine, University of Glasgow, said:

“The top line results from SELECT are exciting as preventing heart attacks and stroke with a drug that also lowers weight is very important for many patients, especially if the data also show, as I suspect they will, a meaningful improvement of quality of life for patients due to associated weight loss.  More details are needed on the trials to give it proper consideration, including examination of safety aspects, but even here the top line report also sounded optimistic.  The one thing to caution is we do not know to what extent the weight loss effects of semaglutide as opposed to its other direct effects on blood vessels or the heart, account for the 20% reduction in cardiovascular events, and more data are needed to try to work this out.  For now, however, this is a good result for patients, especially as progressively more are living with obesity and cardiovascular disease.”


Prof Stephen O’Rahilly, Director of the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, University of Cambridge, said:

“The results from this trial have been long awaited and do not disappoint.  Simply put, a drug which acts to reduce body weight by targeting appetite, if taken long term by people who are overweight or obese, significantly reduces their risk of serious cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack).  The obvious conclusion of these findings is that we should view obesity as a medical condition, like hypertension (high blood pressure), where effective and safe drug therapy can contribute to reducing serious adverse health outcomes.”


Dr Simon Cork, Senior Lecturer in Physiology, Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“Whilst the results of the SELECT trial still need to be confirmed through careful peer review, they demonstrate the urgent need for patients living with obesity to be offered this effective and safe drug to prevent future disease.  Obesity and its associated health impacts cost the NHS over £6 billion per year.  The results of the SELECT trial show that effective and long term support with losing weight with Wegovy, the results of which are unattainable for most people living with obesity to achieve through diet and exercise alone, results in significant improvements in health outcomes.  This will not only provide significant financial savings for health bodies, but provide people with a greater quality of life.

“This data also shows the need for obesity to be treated as a serious health issue which needs aggressive treatment.  There has been an overwhelming paucity of effective, long term treatments for obesity with the burden being placed on the individual to fight their own physiology to achieve sustained weight loss.  The advent of these drugs, and the others which are in late stage clinical trials, will hopefully change the narrative around how we treat obesity in the future.”



Novo Nordisk press release:



Declared interests

Prof Naveed Sattar: “I have consulted for several companies that market GLP-1RA including Novo Nordisk and Eli-Lilly but have no involvement in SELECT.  I continue to be part of trial committees looking at both lifestyle-related and drug related weight loss in cardiometabolic and related conditions.”

Prof Stephen O’Rahilly: “Professor O’Rahilly is consulting to a number of pharmaceutical companies but has no current relationship with Novo-Nordisk, the manufacturer of Semagutide.”

Dr Simon Cork: “No conflicts to declare.”

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