Robert Kushner, MD: Treatment Options to Address Diabetes, Obesity

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In an interview during Pri-Med Midwest, Dr. Kushner spoke about the benefits of treating obesity and diabetes synchronously.

“It turns out that over 80 to 90% of individuals living with diabetes have obesity,” Robert Kushner, MD, Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Univeristy, said in an interview with HCPLive at Pri-Med Midwest 2022.

“It's very natural that you would think of treating both of these diseases at the same time,” he explained. “We have a new drug that has just been recently released here in the United States called tirzepatide for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The drug also is being investigated for treatment of obesity.”

Kushner referenced the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of tirzepatide injection as a treatment to improve blood sugar control for adults with type 2 diabetes. The drug's effects on diabetes were also discussed at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Scientific Sessions this year.

“The reason is that it mimics two naturally occurring gastrointestinal hormones called GLP-1 and GIP,” Kushner said. “We often know those medical settings as incretin hormones, so they actually increase insulin release in managing blood sugar. That's why it's developed for diabetes, but it also has a profound effect on appetite. So, as individuals take a drug like tirzepatide, they also have a reduction in appetite.”

He further explained that not only does the treatment address diabetes directly by bringing blood sugar levels down, but it also does so by lowering patients’ body weight and limiting their caloric intake. He also acknowledged the drug semaglutide, which has been found to reduce long-term diabetes risk.

“The SELECT trial is currently ongoing for semaglutide 2.4, looking at cardiovascular outcome trials in individuals without diabetes but just with obesity," he explained "Tirzepatide also has a cardiovascular outcome trial underway now, but we have to wait a few more years."

"I'm convinced that both of these drugs are going to have cardiovascular outcome trials published.”

Watch more of Dr. Kushner’s interview with HCPLive regarding his presentation at Pri-Med Midwest 2022.

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