Walter G. Wasser

Ozempic: A Game-Changer for Diabetes and CKD

As a nephrologist who has been managing individuals with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease for years, I am always on the lookout for advancements in treatment. Recently, I came across groundbreaking news that has added a significant tool to my arsenal: Ozempic, known generically as semaglutide. Ozempic is a blockbuster diabetes drug that has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of kidney failure and death for people with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

At a conference in Stockholm, researchers presented clinical-trial data highlighting these remarkable benefits. The phase IIIb trial, which included 3,533 participants, revealed that weekly injections of semaglutide led to a 24% reduction in major kidney disease events, such as kidney failure and death from kidney complications, compared to those receiving a placebo. Additionally, participants were 29% less likely to die from major cardiovascular incidents and 20% less likely to die from any cause during the trial period. These results are particularly promising given the profound connection between kidney disease and heart disease.

Semaglutide’s manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, had previously halted its kidney-disease trial due to overwhelmingly positive results, as recommended by an independent data-safety monitoring board. This decision underscores the drug’s efficacy and the ethical implications of continuing a placebo-controlled trial when the benefits are so clear.

The implications of these findings are vast. Chronic kidney disease, especially in individuals with type 2 diabetes, has long been associated with high rates of cardiovascular death. Despite overall improvements in heart disease mortality rates globally, this population has not seen similar progress. The introduction of semaglutide as a treatment could revolutionize the management of chronic kidney disease, providing a much-needed option for a condition that affects millions worldwide.

Historically, chronic kidney disease has been treated with blood-pressure medications such as ACE-inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers and other drugs offering limited kidney protection. In recent years, advancements such as sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors have provided additional options. However, the need for effective therapies remains. Semaglutide’s ability to moderate blood sugar and protect the kidneys is a game-changer, potentially slowing the progression of kidney disease and reducing inflammation.

The prospect of a medication that can simultaneously manage diabetes, protect kidneys, and reduce cardiovascular risks is nothing short of miraculous. The full data analysis, now published in The New England Journal of Medicine, provides a solid foundation for these claims and promises a brighter future for many.

As a physician and an advocate for better healthcare, I am thrilled by these developments and look forward to seeing how semaglutide will continue to impact the lives of those with chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes. This breakthrough offers hope and a renewed sense of possibility for managing these challenging conditions.

For more details, you can refer to the original study.


Perkovic, V. et al. N. Engl. J. Med (2024).

About the Author
The author is a specialist in nephrology and internal medicine and lives with his wife and family in Jerusalem.
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