Semaglutide, a Once-Weekly Human GLP-1 Analog, Does Not Reduce the Bioavailability of the Combined Oral Contraceptive, Ethinylestradiol/Levonorgestrel

The effect of semaglutide, a once-weekly human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analog in development for type 2 diabetes (T2D), on the bioavailability of a combined oral contraceptive was investigated. Postmenopausal women with T2D (n = 43) on diet/exercise ± metformin received ethinylestradiol (0.03 mg)/levonorgestrel (0.15 mg) once daily for 8 days before (semaglutide-free) and during (steady-state 1.0 mg) semaglutide treatment (subcutaneous once weekly; dose escalation: 0.25 mg 4 weeks; 0.5 mg 4 weeks; 1.0 mg 5 weeks). Bioequivalence of oral contraceptives was established if 90%CI for the ratio of pharmacokinetic parameters during semaglutide steady-state and semaglutide-free periods was within prespecified limits (0.80–1.25). The bioequivalence criterion was met for ethinylestradiol area under the curve (AUC0–24 h) for semaglutide steady-state/semaglutide-free; 1.11 (1.06–1.15). AUC0–24 h was 20% higher for levonorgestrel at semaglutide steady-state vs. semaglutide-free (1.20 [1.15–1.26]). Cmax was within bioequivalence criterion for both contraceptives. Reductions (mean ± SD) in HbA1c (–1.1 ± 0.6%) and weight (–4.3 ± 3.1 kg) were observed. Semaglutide pharmacokinetics were compatible with once-weekly dosing; the semaglutide dose and dose-escalation regimen were well tolerated. Adverse events, mainly gastrointestinal, were mild to moderate in severity. Asymptomatic increases in mean amylase and lipase were observed. Three subjects had elevated alanine aminotransferase levels ≥3x the upper limit of normal during semaglutide/oral contraceptive coadministration, which were reported as adverse events, but resolved during follow-up. Semaglutide did not reduce the bioavailability of ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel.(Semaglutide (Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark), a human GLP-1 analog, is currently in phase III clinical development for the treatment of T2D. Semaglutide has 94% structural homology to native human GLP-1. Three minor but important modifications make semaglutide suitable for clinical use: amino acid substitutions at position 8 (alanine to alpha-aminoisobutyric acid, a synthetic amino acid) and position 34 (lysine to arginine), and acylation of the peptide backbone with a spacer and C-18 fatty di-acid chain to lysine at position 26. The fatty di-acid side chain and the spacer mediate strong binding to albumin, which is believed to result in reduced renal clearance. The amino acid substitution at position 8 makes semaglutide less susceptible to degradation by DPP-4. The reported t1/2 of semaglutide is 155–184 hours.)

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