Charleston, SC

Charleston hospital to take part in clinical trials for new weight loss drug

Libby-Jane Charleston
The centre will utilize the expertize of on-staff dietitians, exercise physiologists and others@Live5

The Medical University of South Carolina will participate in an obesity study following approval of a new drug by the US Food and Drug Administration for chronic weight management. The MUSC's Weight Management Department participated in the trials and research that led to this approval.

The MUSC team carried out trials for the drug "Samaglatide" for over a year. The hospital says it’s a medication that has previously been used at a lower dose for the management of type 2 diabetes.

About 25 people in the Charleston area participated in the trials at a time, and MUSC says there were a few different rounds. MUSC Weight Management Center Director Patrick M. O’Neil says during the trials, the average weight loss was 14 to 16 percent.

“Obesity is a very complex condition with a variety of factors that can contribute to it. Management of it needs to be multifaceted as well. It’s easy to say, ‘Just push away from the table,’ but pushing away from the table is harder for some people than for others,” he said.

The center, in addition to offering more traditional weight-loss programs that utilize the expertise of on-staff dietitians, exercise physiologists, a physician, behavioral specialists and a nurse practitioner, also participates in clinical trials for new weight loss drugs and devices.

“Physicians really do not have very many options when it comes to medications that might help in the management of obesity, so there really is a need for a variety of obesity medications,” O’Neil said.
Linda Wozniak is feeling healthier after losing 55 pounds during a clinical trial at the MUSC Health Weight Management CenterMUSC

Linda Wozniak recently lost 55 pounds while participating in a clinical trial at the MUSC. “When you break it down to ‘consume less calories than you burn,’ obviously everyone gets that concept. But when you try to apply that to your day-to-day life – that doesn’t always work out so well,” she says.

Wozniak was one of the trial participants. She still doesn’t know whether she received the drug or the placebo but suspects, given how much weight she lost, that she received the medication.

She injected herself weekly from the fall of 2018 until the beginning of 2020. With the advent of COVID-19 and lockdowns, she’s gained some back but has mostly maintained the weight loss. The intensive behavioral counseling was important for her, she said, because she learned tips and tricks that she’s been able to continue after the trial ended.

The Weight Management Center wants people to know that they have a weight loss program for all South Carolinians to reach their healthy weight goals.

Anyone can take part in their distance programs, Focus Carolina, Professional Home Weight Monitoring and ExpertEase.

Here are some other helpful programs on offer:

First Step

First Step is an eight-week lifestyle change program that offers weight loss assistance through individual weekly meetings with our Registered Dietitians, Exercise Physiologists, and Behavioral Specialists. It is appropriate for people of all weight ranges.


The SHINE program is based on the Prevent T2 curriculum developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the primary goal for all participants to maintain 150 minutes of exercise each week and lose 5%-7%+ body weight. 

Focus-23 & Focus-27

Focus-23 and Focus-27 are simply extended versions of our Focus-15 program, which allow you to extend how long you follow the more structured, meal replacement-based phases of the program.


The Focus program is a 15-week lifestyle change program; we also include 3 additional follow-up visits at the end of the initial program, to further assist you with managing your weight on your own. This program is designed to induce larger initial weight losses than traditional lifestyle change programs (e.g., First Step).


This 30-week program, designed for people who need to lose more than 50 pounds, combines medically supervised supplemented fasting with instructions in lifestyle change techniques to help you make the lifestyle changes necessary to maintain a healthier weight.

Focus Carolina

Our most popular Focus programs are now offered online in real-time so that anyone, anywhere in South Carolina or North Carolina can participate.


ExpertEase provides individuals with the opportunity to gain insight into areas of weight management without having to commit to a long term program. You can meet with our staff over video or phone.

Home Weight Monitoring

A new virtual twelve-week weight loss program. Get personalized feedback and education on your diet, activity, and weight loss from experts in the field. 

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I'm a journalist and author writing across a wide range of topics, including tech, travel, history, business/startups, relationships, beauty & fashion, British royal history, & local stories concerning Charleston, S.C (where I have a long family history on my father's side: hence my surname! ) Former HuffPost Assoc Ed, ABC TV, ATV Beijing correspondent and many more. Author of "Fatal Females." Mother of three boys: I will love them until the Statue of Liberty sits down.


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