Harold Bays, MD: Transforming Obesity Management with Highly Effective Therapies

Anti-obesity medications have the potential for significant weight reduction, but the development of newer agents may lead to an even greater change in obesity care.

The management of obesity with anti-obesity medications has entered a new age with recent approvals of highly-effective medications for the disease state and more expected to come.

The Obesity Medicine Association released a Clinical Practice Statement in 2022 to assist clinicians in caring for patients with obesity and how forthcoming anti-obesity agents may provide further safe and effective treatments for the disease.

The statement additionally indicated that anti-obesity drug development has mirrored the path of other metabolic diseases. It suggested that the proven benefits in cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes will be the “binary switch that will transform the current limited use of anti-obesity medications into standards of care for patients with obesity.”

In the first half of an interview with HCPLive, Harold Bays, MD, Vice President, Chief Science Officer, Obesity Medicine Association, discussed how the scope of the patient centered approach has been broadened with the introduction of these agents. Bays added how the therapies are defined as medications that in a clinically meaningful percent or patients can achieve a 15% of greater weight reduction, including agents like semaglutide.

“The more and more of these agents, and then you add on top of that, multiple other agents that are in development, it's just going to be a whole lot easier to treat obesity within the coming say two to five years, then we find ourselves today,” Bays said.

He additionally indicated the potential for that 15% or greater weight reduction to evolve over time, as therapies become more efficacious.

“I think we will reach a point when we're not going to be satisfied with just 15%,” he said. “I think we're going to find when we start developing newer agents or we start combining different anti-obesity medications with different mechanisms of actions that maybe now instead of 15%, we're talking about 20%, or maybe even 25%.”

In addition, he noted that weight may become less of the focus as it shifts to the efficacy to outcomes, such as the effect it may have on visceral fat or blood sugar and blood pressure. But, most of all, Bays believes what clinicians will want to know is to what degree the therapies can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer.

“It’s these very hard outcomes that I think will ultimately end up being the main metric for which we will assess efficacy,” Bays said.

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