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Weight-loss Drug Lowers Risk of Death from Kidney Disease


A recent study has revealed that semaglutide, a drug better known by its brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, can reduce deaths from kidney disease by 24%. This promising result offers a new treatment avenue for millions of people with this condition. Semaglutide, initially developed for type 2 diabetes and obesity, shows potential benefits beyond weight loss by significantly reducing major complications related to chronic kidney disease.


The study, which involved 3,533 patients with both type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, tracked participants over three and a half years. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either a weekly injection of semaglutide or a placebo. Results showed that those receiving semaglutide had a 24% lower rate of major complications, including kidney failure and death, compared to those on the placebo. This finding is particularly significant as it points to the drug’s ability to protect against kidney disease and cardiovascular events independently of weight loss.


Presented at the European Renal Association conference in Stockholm, the study adds to a growing body of evidence that Semaglutide and similar drugs can be used to treat a range of chronic conditions by reducing inflammation in the body. Currently, semaglutide is approved only for the treatment of obesity and diabetes, but this new evidence suggests it could soon become a valuable tool in the fight against chronic kidney disease.


Chronic kidney disease affects over 7.2 million people in the UK and is particularly prevalent among those with type 2 diabetes. The condition impairs the kidneys’ ability to filter waste and fluids from the blood, leading to increased strain on the heart and blood vessels. Symptoms often develop slowly, including tiredness, swollen ankles, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, patients may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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Dr. Vlado Perkovic, the study’s author and academic at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, highlighted the profound clinical impact of these findings. He noted that the use of semaglutide in people with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease can lower the risk of major kidney outcomes and reduce cardiovascular events and deaths. This could signify a major shift in treatment strategies for individuals at high risk of diabetes-related complications, providing a new avenue for kidney and cardiovascular protection.


The trial’s success led to its early termination, a testament to the drug’s effectiveness. Funded by Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Ozempic and Wegovy, the study underscores the potential of semaglutide to improve patient outcomes significantly. It also highlights the drug’s safety, further supporting its potential value for this patient population.


The promising results of this study are published in the New England Journal of Medicine. They come on the heels of another trial led by University College London, which found that semaglutide reduces heart disease deaths by 20% even without significant weight loss. These findings suggest that semaglutide targets the underlying biology of chronic diseases, making it a potentially routine preventive treatment similar to statins.


Semaglutide, first introduced in 2018 as a diabetes treatment, mimics the hormone GLP-1 and is part of a new generation of anti-obesity drugs. The drug’s ability to slow the progression of kidney disease means patients could experience a better quality of life with fewer instances of dialysis or the need for a kidney transplant.


Chronic kidney disease currently lacks specific medication, with treatments focusing on managing underlying conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. The potential approval of semaglutide for chronic kidney disease would represent a significant advancement, offering hope to millions of patients globally.


The study’s findings suggest a future where semaglutide is routinely used to manage not only diabetes and obesity but also chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular conditions, fundamentally changing the landscape of treatment for these chronic diseases. As research continues, the drug’s ability to save kidneys, hearts, and lives becomes increasingly clear, offering a beacon of hope for those affected by these conditions.

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Hayward, E. (2024). “Weight-loss drug ‘lowers risk of death from kidney disease’.” The Times. Available at:

Chronic kidney disease – Symptoms – NHS (