Semaglutide, reduction in glycated haemoglobin and the risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Vilsbøll T., Bain SC., Leiter LA., Lingvay I., Matthews D., Simó R., Helmark IC., Wijayasinghe N., Larsen M.
AIMS: To evaluate diabetic retinopathy (DR) data from across the SUSTAIN clinical trial programme. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The SUSTAIN clinical trial programme evaluated the efficacy and safety of semaglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue, for the treatment of type 2 diabetes (T2D). In SUSTAIN 6, a 2-year, pre-approval cardiovascular outcomes trial, semaglutide was associated with a significant increase in the risk of DR complications (DRC) vs placebo. DR data from across the SUSTAIN trials were evaluated, and post hoc analyses of the SUSTAIN 6 data were conducted. These included subgroup analyses to identify at-risk patients and a mediation analysis with initial change in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c; percentage-points at week 16) as a covariate, to examine the role of the magnitude of reduction in HbA1c as an intermediate factor affecting risk of DRC. RESULTS: There was no imbalance in DR adverse events across the SUSTAIN 1 to 5 and Japanese trials. The majority of the effect with semaglutide vs placebo in SUSTAIN 6 may be attributed to the magnitude and rapidity of HbA1c reduction during the first 16 weeks of treatment in patients who had pre-existing DR and poor glycaemic control at baseline, and who were treated with insulin. CONCLUSIONS: Early worsening of DR is a known phenomenon associated with the rapidity and magnitude of improvement in glycaemic control with insulin; the DRC findings in SUSTAIN 6 are consistent with this. Guidance regarding the early worsening of DR is recommended with insulin. Similar recommendations may be appropriate for semaglutide.