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Weight-loss drugs tied to benefit after hip replacement for patients

(Reuters) — New diabetes and weight-loss drugs may benefit patients undergoing hip replacement, without adding to complication risks, according to preliminary data released on Monday at a large meeting of orthopedic surgeons.

In one study reviewing use of Ozempic — the brand name for Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide prescribed for hard-to-control diabetes — the drug was associated with 44% lower odds of developing an infection of the newly implanted joint, after other risk factors were taken into account, researchers said. Semaglutide is sold under the name Wegovy for weight-loss.

Those taking Ozempic also had 32% lower odds of needing to be readmitted to the hospital, with no increase in risk for postoperative complications.

For the study, doctors at a large New York City hospital reviewed data on 9,465 patients with diabetes who underwent total hip arthroplasty, including 1,653 who took Ozempic.

Many of the patients also had obesity, said study leader Dr. Matthew Magruder of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.

A second study adds to evidence that semaglutide is safe for patients undergoing hip replacement. Researchers analyzed postoperative complication rates in 1,232 patients with obesity who underwent total hip replacement, half of whom had been prescribed Wegovy. The two groups were closely matched in age, weight and risk factors.

Ozempic manufactured by Novo Nordisk packaging is seen in this illustration photo taken in a pharmacy in Krakow, Poland on December 7, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Ozempic manufactured by Novo Nordisk in a Polish pharmacy. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Use of Wegovy did not increase patients’ risks for postoperative problems such as infection or dislocation of the hip implant, need for reoperation, lung or heart complications or death, researchers found.

It's not clear from the two studies how long patients had been taking Ozempic or Wegovy before surgery.

Neither study had commercial funding.

And neither one proves semaglutide or other drugs belonging to a class known as GLP-1 agonists are safe or protective among these patients.

“At this time, we do not have enough evidence to definitely recommend starting GLP-1 agonists like semaglutide prior to total hip replacement,” Magruder said. “We need high quality, prospective, randomized controlled trials to definitively make that recommendation.”

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; editing by Michele Gershberg and Cynthia Osterman)