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Deeply reported context helps obesity drug story resonate with readers

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Since joining AP last fall, veteran health reporter JoNel Aleccia has been tracking the changes in obesity care.

While one drug had already caught the eye of doctors desperate for something to help patients and celebrities looking for a way to slim down, she knew another, even more powerful drug, would soon be available. The drugmaker was waiting on the results of one last study before it had enough to finalize a request to U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval.

When she found out when those results would emerge, she prepared a story to capitalize on the news — but tell the broader story about how the landscape for obesity care was about to be transformed. She spoke to patients using the drug “off label,” to doctors to get their hopes and concerns, to Wall Street analysts who told her they think it could become one of the best-selling drugs.

She wrote an explainer to accompany the story that explored the scope of the obesity problem and dives deeper into costs, side effects, alternatives and how these drugs work in the body.

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