GLP-1 Weight Loss Medications in the News

We continue looking at the latest headlines in the fascinating and controversial world of GLP-1 weight loss drugs. Let’s go!

Coverage of weight loss drugs might be changing

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering a change that would require insurers to cover obesity drugs for more than 20 million Americans under Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans. This change could expand coverage for obesity drugs, infertility treatments, and sexual dysfunction treatments, potentially impacting the market significantly.

Study finds GLP-1 med reduces opioid craving

In other news, the study presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference demonstrates that the GLP-1 medication liraglutide significantly reduces opioid cravings, potentially offering a novel approach to treating opioid addiction. Among 20 patients with opioid use disorder, those on liraglutide experienced a 40% reduction in cravings over the three-week study, with the effect seen even at low doses.

Combining liraglutide with buprenorphine, another medication for opioid use disorder, further reduced cravings and mitigated gastrointestinal side effects. However, gastrointestinal distress led to a high dropout rate among participants, highlighting a potential barrier to treatment.

Despite limitations such as the small sample size and short trial duration, researchers emphasize the importance of these findings as a proof of concept and plan larger trials to confirm the efficacy of liraglutide in treating opioid addiction.

GLP-1 drugs show potential for alcoholism treatment

Christian Hendershot, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill psychologist who has been studying GLP-1s for alcohol use disorder and was not involved with the study, emphasized the importance of this data as a proof of concept and a stepping stone toward larger trials. He said:

The reason these initial findings are nice is that they looked at this question in a really controlled environment. We know that craving predicts relapses in many cases, so having established that reduction, the next question is whether drugs like liraglutide suppress craving and relapse in the natural environment…

Patricia Grigson, director of the Penn State Addiction Center for Translation, who was involved in the trial, also commented:

With one person dying every five minutes and people dying around the world due to opioid exposure, we feel a sense of urgency… I feel very hopeful; there may be a new treatment for opioid use disorder.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Should ACA plans cover weight loss drugs?,”, 2/20/2024
Source: “Opioid cravings were reduced by anti-obesity drug in small study,”, 2/17/2024
Image by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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