New weight loss drugs on the market have been making waves since 2021 when they were authorized to treat obesity. Semaglutide injections, known as Wegovy or Ozempic, have become very popular over the past several months. The buzz you received TikTok influencers (and rumors of use among some famous people).
Prescription injections are introduced as a treatment for diabetes In 2017But people soon found that the drugs — which help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels — also led to significant weight loss in people struggling to lose weight with other treatments.
Then interest in the drugs grew and clinical trials confirmed what people suspected – that semaglutide injections could help people lose weight – demand increased, so much so that pharmacies across the country were running out of both. Wegs And Ozympic. Obesity specialists understand the incentive; This type of prescription weight loss medication is becoming more common.
“For those of us dealing with obesity, this is a game changer we’ve never seen before,” said Dr. Dan AzaguriBariatric surgeon at Stanford Health Care. “This is the first time we have effective drugs to treat obesity.”
Excessive obesity It’s one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States, but until recently, we didn’t have very effective drugs to address commonly associated health problems like high cholesterol and blood pressure. In addition to lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, an intervention for obesity is surgery (think: gastric bypass or duodenal switch).
According to Azaguri, many obesity specialists have noticed that after bariatric surgery, many patients are suddenly no longer diabetic. When researchers investigated the cause of this, they identified new gut hormones, including glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), which reacts to food entering the intestine.
Further investigation showed that GLP-1, which It increases after bariatric surgery, improves blood sugar levels, and thus helps with diabetes. “That’s why the primary diabetes is eliminated in the surgery,” Azaguri said.
After this discovery, pharmaceutical companies are planning to develop diabetes medicine Activate those GLP-1 receptors. That’s it. It led to development semaglutide – A synthetic compound that mimics the effect of GLP-1 – and later a semaglutide-based diabetes drug Ozympic, Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017.
Another key finding about GLP-1: It slows down digestion and reduces food intake, says Dr. Janelle Dua, a Yale medicine internist. That’s why OzympicIt is intended for diabetes, prescribed and ongoing Off label For weight loss, Azagury said.
The weight-loss effects of GLP-1 (rejuvenated by semaglutide), combined with the wild demand for Ozempic, prompted the drug’s manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, to create a similar drug specifically for weight loss: Wegovy. Basically only a strong Ozympic dose, Wegovy found FDA approval In June 2021
Who is a candidate for the drugs?
Wegs, The once-weekly vaccine is recommended for adults with a body mass index of more than 30 or a BMI of more than 27 who have at least one weight-related health problem (think: high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol).. It’s also to complement exercise and dietary changes, which is why obesity specialists like Azaguri recommend that patients work with a comprehensive team of providers, including nutritionists and therapists. Patients can obtain a prescription through their primary care physician.
Many people find that the injection helps them feel fuller for longer and reduces sugar cravings. “Protein and fiber make them crave more — so it helps them stick to dietary changes that can make them gain more weight,” Dua said. Some people report that it reduces their cravings for alcohol and helps them sleep better.
Ozympic Although people are taking it off-label for weight loss purposes, it is not approved for obesity or weight loss, but for type 2 diabetes. It is perfectly legal for doctors to prescribe drugs off-label, but this may be overkill. Continuous drug shortage – It is a major issue for people with diabetes who cannot take the medicines.
What is the general use of these weight loss drugs?
Obesity doctors are very happy. Often people gain weight out of control due to health problems, not willpower or lack of discipline. Many obese patients have tried everything, only to see minimal results. “Now we have something to help them,” Azaguri said.
According to Dua, the increase in prescriptions is, for the most part, for good reason. “It is the most effective weight loss drug on the market so far, with users losing up to 20% of their body weight,” said Dua.
And although interest in these drugs is increasing, Azaguri still thinks they can help more people. In the year The first class of obesity drugs in the 1960s and 70s had dire consequences and probably made many people nervous about the idea. It may take some convincing for most people to finally accept that there is an effective drug for weight loss, Azaguri said.
There is also the issue of cost. These drugs are not always covered by insurance, Azagury, so it can Getting expensive ($1,500 to $1,800 per month). “That’s the biggest challenge people face,” Azaguri said. “It’s FDA-approved; that doesn’t mean insurance will pay.
According to Dua, this is one of the main reasons why suppliers order Ozempic instead. Unlike Wegovy, Ozempic is often covered for diabetes or insulin resistance, so patients looking for semaglutide injections can get them more affordably.
There are some risks associated with semaglutide injection.
Like any drug, there are Accidents — but the injections were surprisingly well tolerated, Azaguri said. The most common side effects are gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, gas and heartburn. As your body gets used to the injection, these GI-related side effects should decrease; In the meantime, they can be treated by eating smaller, more frequent meals or taking over-the-counter medications such as bismuth subsalicylate or heart-relieving tablets, Dua said. (If side effects persist, be sure to talk to your doctor about finding relief or other, more tolerable options.)
In rare cases, semaglutide injection can lead to thyroid tumors, which can be cancerous. Others are potentially serious Side effects They include pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, low blood sugar, kidney problems, allergic reactions and depression. The injections should not be used with other drugs that contain semaglutide or target GLP-1 receptors.
Because the drug is relatively new, we are still learning about long-term side effects. The injections aren’t a quick fix, and most people need to stay on the drugs for at least a year (and possibly longer) to achieve their weight loss goals and improve their health, Azaguri says. one Research Many people who stop taking the drugs find that they regain weight quickly, leading to a growing belief that the injections should be taken long-term.
We did not see any long-term effects other than a slightly higher risk of gallstones (common with rapid weight loss). liraglutide, Same medicine It has been on the market since 2010. Azaguri expects semaglutide-based drugs to be similar — but only time will tell.
Talk to your doctor if you are interested in semaglutide injections. Understand the pros and cons, and keep in mind that due to inflation, supply issues, and growing demand, these drugs are being back-ordered — often to people who need them most. Hopefully, the supply will increase soon and more insurers will cover the cost. This will help more people get the drugs at affordable prices, Dua said.
“If insurance covered weight loss drugs like Wegovy and increased supply, we wouldn’t be dealing with these issues by keeping Ozympic on the shelves of our pharmacies,” Dua said.