A new class of weight-loss drugs on the market has been making big waves since they were authorized as an obesity treatment in 2021. Semaglutide injections, which you may know as Wegovy or Ozempic, have become very popular over the past several months, thanks to the buzz they’ve received from TikTok influencers (And rumors of its use among some celebrities).
Prescribed injections were introduced as a treatment for diabetes in 2017But people soon realized that the drugs — which help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels — also led to significant weight loss in obese people who had struggled to lose weight with other treatments.
From there, interest in the drugs grew, and after clinical trials confirmed what people suspected—that semaglutide injections help people lose weight—demand soared, to the point where pharmacies across the country are running low on both. and hollow And ozimbek. Obesity professionals understand the hype. This type of weight loss medication has been prescribed for a long time.
“For those of us who treat obesity, this is a change we haven’t seen before,” said Dr. Dan Azagury, a bariatric surgeon at Stanford Health Care. “This is the first time ever that we have really effective drugs to treat obesity.”
obesity It is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States, but until recently, we didn’t have very effective medications to treat the health complications it is commonly associated with, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Aside from lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, bariatric surgery is almost always invasive (think: gastric bypass or duodenal switch).
According to Azagury, many obesity specialists have noticed that in the wake of undergoing bariatric surgery, many patients suddenly become diabetic. In investigating why this is, the researchers identified new gut hormones, including one called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which reacts to food entering the intestine.
Further testing revealed that GLP-1, which It increases after bariatric surgeryIt improves blood sugar levels and thus helps treat diabetes. “This is why my primary diabetes went away within days of surgery,” Azagury said.
After this discovery, pharmaceutical companies set out to create a diabetes drug that could Activate those GLP-1 receptors. this What led to the development semaglutide – A synthetic compound that mimics the effects of GLP-1 – and later the diabetes drug semaglutide – based ozimbekAnd which received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2017.
The other key finding about GLP-1: It slows digestion and reduces food intake, according to Dr. Janelle Doh, an internist at Yale University School of Medicine. this is the reason ozimbekIntended for diabetes, it was and still is being prescribed outside the weight loss inner leaflet, said azagury.
The weight loss effects of GLP-1 (which is accelerated through semaglutide), along with the huge demand for Ozempic, has led the drug manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, to create a very similar drug specifically for weight loss: Wegovy. Basically just a stronger dose of Ozempic, Wegovy’s got it FDA approval in June 2021.
Who is the drug candidate?
and hollowAnd An injection once a week, intended for adults with a BMI over 30, or a BMI over 27 and at least one weight-related health problem (think: high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol). It’s also meant to complement physical activity and dietary changes, which is why obesity specialists like Azagury recommend that patients work with a comprehensive team of providers, including dietitians and therapists, if they can afford it. Patients can get the prescription through their primary care physician as well.
Many people find that injections help them feel fuller for longer and reduce cravings for sugar. It “makes them crave more for protein and fiber — which helps them stick to diet changes that can boost weight loss,” Doh said. Some people say it also reduced their desire to drink alcohol, and helped them sleep better.
ozimbek It is approved for type 2 diabetes, not obesity or weight loss, although people remove it from the label for weight loss purposes. It’s perfectly legal for doctors to prescribe medications off-label, but that can potentially add up Constant shortage of medicines – And it’s a big problem for diabetics who don’t have access to medication.
What is the total intake of these weight loss drugs?
Obesity doctors are happy. More often than not, people keep weight on because of health issues beyond their control, rather than a lack of willpower or discipline. Many obesity patients have tried all of this, only to see little results. “Now we have something to help them,” Azaguri said.
According to Doaa, the recent increase in prescriptions, for the most part, is for good reason. “It is by far the most effective weight loss drug on the market, with users losing up to 20% of their base weight,” Duaa said.
And although interest in these drugs is growing, Azagoury believes they can still help more people. The original class of obesity drugs from the 1960s and 1970s had serious consequences and likely pissed a lot of people off about the whole idea. It may take some convincing for more people to accept that there is finally an effective drug available for weight loss, Azagury said.
There is also the issue of cost. These medications aren’t always covered by insurance, Azagouri said, so they can become expensive (to adjust from $1,500 to $1,800 per month). “This is the biggest challenge that people will face,” Azagury said. “It’s FDA-approved; that doesn’t mean insurance will pay for it.”
According to Duah, this is one of the main reasons providers prescribe Ozempic instead. Unlike Wegovy, Ozempic is often covered for diabetes or insulin resistance, so patients looking for semaglutide injections can access it at a reasonable price.
There are some risks associated with semaglutide injection
As with any drug, there are Risks But the injection is surprisingly well-tolerated, Azagury said. The most common side effects are gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, gas, and heartburn. These GI-related side effects should subside as your body gets used to the injection; until then, they can be managed. Mostly by eating smaller, more frequent meals or taking over-the-counter medications such as bismuth subsalicylate or heartburn relief tablets.(If side effects persist, be sure to talk to your doctor about finding relief or other tolerable options.)
In rare cases, semaglutide injections can lead to thyroid tumors, which can be cancerous. Another potential seriousness Side effects These include pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, low blood sugar, kidney problems, allergic reactions, and depression. The injection should also not be used with other medications that contain semaglutide or that target the GLP-1 receptor.
We’re still learning about the long-term side effects, because the drug is relatively new. Injections aren’t a quick fix, and most people will have to keep taking the medications for at least a year (and possibly longer) to achieve their weight-loss goals and improve their health, according to Azaguri. One study It has been found that many people who stop taking medications gain weight quickly, supporting the growing belief that injections should be taken long-term.
Other than a slightly elevated risk of developing gallstones (which is common with many types of rapid weight loss), we didn’t see any long-term effects with liraglutide, similar drug This has been on the market since 2010. Azagury expects the same to be true with semaglutide-containing drugs, given their similarities — but, of course, time will tell.
If you are interested in semaglutide injections, talk to your doctor. Understand the risks and benefits, and remember that because of inflation and increased supply and demand issues, these drugs tend to fall back on demand—often for the people who need them most. Hopefully supply will increase soon and more insurance companies will cover the cost. Doh said that would help more people get access to medicines at a fair price.
“If weight-loss drugs like Wegovy were covered by insurances and increased supplies, we wouldn’t have these issues with keeping Ozambik on our pharmacy shelves,” Doh said.