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Research Letter Looks at GLP-1RA Dispensing for Adolescents and Young Adults With Obesity

May 22, 2024
by Alexa Tomassi

In a new research letter in JAMA, Mona Sharifi, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics (general pediatrics) and of biostatistics (health informatics), and a team of researchers looked at the dispensing of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RA) medications to adolescents and young adults (AYAs), aged 12-17 years. GLP-1RA medications have been approved for use in adults with type 2 diabetes and for adults with obesity for many years, but national attention increased around the Food and Drug Administration's approval of semaglutide for weight loss in 2021 for adults and December 2022 for adolescents with obesity.

The letter’s figures show trends indicating a large recent surge in dispensing of this class of medications to AYAs with differences between males and females that suggest a need to think about sex-specific safety differences in prescribing and dispensing of these medications – for example, determining if there may be different recommendations for use in patients who can become pregnant.

Sharifi also noted the team’s findings show that specialists like endocrinologists are often prescribing GLP-1 medications, as well as nurse practitioners and other healthcare providers. Ensuring inclusive communications, education, and outreach efforts among healthcare providers will be important supports for clinicians prescribing these medications to AYAs.

Sharifi mentioned that as with a lot of research, there are now new questions regarding the use of these medications and what comes next for research. Knowing that there are differences in health insurance coverage for these medications, further analysis of cost, access, and coverage barriers, differences in prescribing due to high costs, and determining if these medications will further widen the gap in obesity prevalence between socio-economic and racial and ethnic groups will become key points to address.

Submitted by Alexa Tomassi on May 17, 2024