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UPDATE 1-Fresenius Medical: effect of drugs like Ozempic on patient numbers is neutral

(Adds quote and explanation by the company from paragraph 3)

By Ludwig Burger

FRANKFURT, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Germany's Fresenius Medical Care said that use of Ozempic and other diabetes and weight-loss drugs of the same class would have an overall neutral effect on how many patients would require the company's kidney dialysis services in the future.

The company's shares, and those of its closest rival DaVita , plunged on Wednesday after Novo Nordisk's Ozempic, part of a class known as GLP-1 drugs, showed early success in a trial to treat kidney failure in diabetes patients.

"Based on currently available clinical data and scientific evidence, Fresenius Medical Care assesses the overall effect of GLP-1 analog use on its own patient flow model as neutral," it said in a statement to Reuters.

Novo said on Wednesday that the Ozempic trial was stopped ahead of schedule because independent supervisors had ruled the drug's positive effect on chronic kidney disease had become clear enough.

In its statement, Fresenius Medical said that the early termination of the study, known as FLOW, does not allow for clear conclusions.

It added that, while past trials have indeed shown that GLP-1 drugs could slow the progression of chronic kidney disease, overall survival was also prolonged, potentially keeping patients in its care for longer.

"Clinical trials as well as already approved indications of GLP-1 analogs show cardiovascular benefits, reducing the overall mortality of treated individuals," it said.

Earlier on Thursday, rival DaVita said that Novo's FLOW trial would only have a limited impact on overall dialysis patient numbers. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger. Editing by Jane Merriman, Kirsten Donovan)

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