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Doctors Warn Obesity Drug Not for Beauty, Ordinary Dieting; First To Be Approved in Japan in About 30 Years

Reuters file photo
A selection of injector pens for the Wegovy weight loss drug are shown in this photo illustration in Chicago, Ill., on March 31.

The Japan Society for the Study of Obesity has called for the appropriate use of Wegovy, the first obesity drug to be approved in Japan in about 30 years, stressing in a statement that it is not meant to be used for beauty care or ordinary dieting.

Wegovy was approved by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in March and became covered by public medical insurance this month. Developed by major Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, the drug can be used in Japan from February next year.

In a statement issued Monday, the society said people who are just overweight should not be given Wegovy. Conditions for using the drug include the patient being diagnosed with obesity, having a high body-mass index of 35 or more, and having at least one of three pre-existing conditions: high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia or type 2 diabetes.

Problems have developed as a result of a diabetes drug with the same components with Wegovy being used for dieting.

“I hope people in this country will properly understand that [Wegovy] is only a drug for obese patients,” said Prof. Wataru Ogawa of Kobe University, an executive director of the society.