Ozempic Lowers Diabetic Kidney Disease

Murat Ustun
Jun 02, 2024By Murat Ustun

Ozempic: A Surprising Ally in the Fight Against Diabetic Kidney Disease

As the use of Ozempic skyrockets, reaching millions of prescriptions worldwide, scientists are uncovering its unexpected benefits beyond controlling diabetes. Initially designed as a diabetes medication, Ozempic is showing promise for heart health and now, intriguingly, for kidney health as well.

Ozempic's Broader Health Benefits

A large international study, funded by Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company behind Ozempic, has revealed that lower doses of the drug might benefit the kidneys. This trial, involving over 3,500 participants from 28 countries, focused on individuals with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease—a combination that significantly increases the risk of kidney failure and fatal cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks.

The Study and Its Findings

Between June 2019 and May 2021, the study divided participants into two groups. One group received a small weekly dose of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, while the other group received a placebo. The results were promising: those on semaglutide experienced a slower decline in kidney function, a reduced risk of kidney failure, lower systolic blood pressure, and weight loss compared to the placebo group.

After 3.4 years, the semaglutide group showed a 24% lower risk of major kidney events, an 18% lower risk of heart attacks or other major cardiovascular events, and a 20% lower risk of death from any cause.

Expert Insights

Nephrologist Vlado Perkovic from the University of New South Wales in Australia highlights the significance of these findings. "We would be saving kidneys, hearts, and lives in this population by making this drug available to them, and that's quite extraordinary for one treatment to be able to do," he says. Perkovic also notes the rising incidence of type 2 diabetes, which is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease.

Insulin Injection ,  diabetes patient

Novo Nordisk's Role and Diabetes Connection

While Novo Nordisk stands to benefit financially from expanding Ozempic's uses, the connection between diabetes and kidney disease makes this transition logical. Type 2 diabetes is the most common cause of chronic kidney disease worldwide. Other medications aimed at balancing blood glucose are already used to protect kidney health and reduce cardiovascular risks.

Understanding Ozempic's Effects

Although the precise mechanisms are not yet fully understood, early studies suggest that Ozempic might directly impact the kidneys by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Additionally, its ability to lower blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and body weight indirectly supports kidney health.

Researchers believe that semaglutide, classified as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, mimics a natural hormone in the body to improve blood sugar control and suppress appetite. This class of drugs, which includes liraglutide and tirzepatide, is known for its positive effects on cardiovascular and kidney health. However, weight loss alone is unlikely to account for all the observed benefits.

Future Research and Clinical Recommendations

Current guidelines from the American Diabetes Association and the Korean Diabetes Association recommend considering GLP-1 receptor agonists for patients with diabetic kidney disease, given the limited treatment options available. Researchers now aim to explore whether these medications can also benefit individuals with chronic kidney disease unrelated to diabetes.

The findings from this study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, emphasizing the importance of further research to fully understand the impact of semaglutide and similar drugs on the body's major organs.


The discovery of Ozempic's potential to lower the risk of diabetic kidney disease offers hope to millions of individuals struggling with this condition. While further studies are needed, the current evidence suggests that this medication could play a crucial role in saving kidneys, hearts, and lives, highlighting the importance of continued research and clinical trials in this area.