What to know about Ozempic and Wegovy and discuss weight loss medications

Over the past few months, diabetes drug Ozempic and its weight loss counterpart, Wegovy, have been the focal point of Celebrity diet tricks And discuss the Internet. Now it is the medical community’s responsibility to fact-check while navigating culture’s complex and often dangerous relationship with diet pills.

Do these new drugs really work? Are they safe? Are they ethical in seeking it as a weight loss tool while theDA is still going for it deficiency report The active ingredient of both drugs, semaglutide?

The answers may depend on why you are taking it, and whether you are able to continue taking it. Compared to previous drugs marketed for weight loss, ozempic and yogovi appear to be safer, said Dr. Christoph Buettner and chair of the division of endocrinology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, despite common side effects such as vomiting and nausea. Their different profile sets both drugs apart.

“There seems to be nothing that compares at the moment,” Buettner said, with the exception of Monjaro, It is currently approved for diabetes But it is expected to be approved for weight loss soon.

Like many medications, Wegovy and Ozempic are chronic medications that are meant to be taken for a long period of time. With that come benefits and risks. “There is no free lunch, so to speak,” Buettner said.

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What are Ozempic and Wegovy? How do they work?

Ozempic and Wegovy are similar drugs that contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide, although Wegovy contains more of it and isDA-approved specifically for weight loss. Ozempic was first approved to treat type 2 diabetes, but in some cases it is also used off-label as a drug for weight loss. Both are weekly-use injectable medications that you administer similarly to how you would use an EpiPen, and both are made by the same drug company, Novo Nordisk.

Semaglutide works by interfering with Insulin production and stabilization of blood sugar levels. This also causes food to move more slowly as it leaves your stomach and reduces your appetite, altering your body’s response to hunger and fullness.

The bodies of people with type 2 diabetes cannot process insulin properly, and the main goal of Ozempic is to control blood sugar levels, while reducing the risks of heart disease, stroke, and other health events that people with diabetes suffer from. more likely to experience. In relation to blood sugar management – the goal of treating type 2 diabetes – semaglutide Proven to be highly effective in experiments.

Wegovy is also effective within it Approved use As a weight loss medication for adults with a BMI over 27 and at least one health condition, such as high blood pressure, as well as adults with a body mass index over 30. Compared to individuals who received a placebo, theDA said in its approval notice, those who took Wegovy Without diabetes they lost an average of 12.4% of their body weight.

But the rising popularity of Ozempic and Wegovy has fueled decades-old concerns about weight-loss drugs and stigma, and has also had other unintended consequences, including drug shortages.

Folk recipes led to a shortage

Increased demand for Wegovy turned into increased demand for Ozempic, as some people who couldn’t get Wegovy turned to its lower-dose sister drug intended to treat diabetes, prescribed by their doctors.

It makes sense that so many people would be able to obtain these prescriptions: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, About 73% of adults in the United States Your BMI was in the overweight or obese range as of 2017-18. BMI is an incomplete, and often inaccurate, indicator of health, but it is used to define obesity, which the CDC considers a chronic disease.

This high demand, similar to shortages of other medications, has caused problems for some diabetics When trying to get Ozempic prescribed to them. Mounjaro, another common drug that contains the active ingredient tirzepatide, is also approved to treat type 2 diabetes, but it is also They are used off label In some cases for weight loss.

Buettner said there are other treatments available for people with diabetes, such as insulin. Although comparing insulin to semaglutide is kind of a “loaded question,” he added, because while semaglutide may carry less risk than lack of blood sugar, or low blood sugar, some patients really need insulin. This may make comparison difficult. As always when finding an alternative to medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first.

There is another diabetes medicine using the same active ingredient, called Rybelsus, but it is taken by mouth. Other medications include Vicoza, Trulicity, and Bydureon, and these may be options if people with diabetes struggle with it They have difficulty providing their medication prescriptionssuch as Everyday Health reports.

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The dangerous history of slimming pills – and their uncertain future

The popularity of semaglutide is all too familiar to Tigress Osborn, president of the National Association for Promotingat Acceptance. Osborne, like many obesity and body neutrality rights activists and some health service providers, rejects the idea of ​​obesity as a disease. Some of the same medical frameworks now used in Ozempic and Wegovy have also been at play during previous waves of weight loss pills, Osborne said, includingen-Phen, a moniker for an appetite-suppressing drug that was eventually pulled from the market of late. ’90s because cause heart damage in many people who have taken it.

“We’ve heard this before,” Osborne said of the widespread support for the current wave of weight-loss drugs. She said, “It’s safe, it’s okay, it will make you healthier.”

In addition to causing heart problems, some of the earlier pills have caused psychological side effects, such as depression, according to Bittner. rimonabant who was It is approved in Europe and also taken off the marketIt has been found to cause adverse mental health side effects.

“When you take drugs that work in the brain, effects on depression or suicidal ideation are common,” Buettner said. Ozempic and Wegovy also work in the brain, hence the appetite-suppressing properties, but they “signal very differently” as GLP-1 receptor agonists in specific brain regions, he said.

Common side effects ozimbek And and hollow These include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. While serious side effects are rare Including pancreatitis It has also been reported. Because losing weight also results in losing stored fat in your face, as some people have reported.Ozempic faceOr the loss of some facial fat associated with a younger or more youthful appearance.

Weight stigma Continuing health effects They are also real factors. research On weight calls into question whether describing weight loss for health based on BMI alone is valid to begin with. the deeply rooted prejudices Osborne said that against larger bodies and the constant pressure to be thin puts people in the difficult position of trying to lose weight with new gadgets or choosing to stay the same.

“Fighting obesity is breaking our hearts – your drugs are actually changing our hearts,” she said. How are we going to choose between these things?

Bright orange pill bottles are repeated in a diagonal pattern.

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Those who choose to use these drugs face another problem: continued access. Besides current shortages, part of the future for these drugs depends on what insurance companies are willing to cover. Many patients reported Trouble getting prescribed medications Insurance covers them when they’re classified as obese—one example of how health care for large bodies can be complicated by cultural biases, even when weight loss is the goal. That could change in the future as the catalog of weight loss drugs grows, Putting more pressure on Medicare and insurance companies to change their policies.

For people who are not celebrities or do not have deep pockets, and who need semaglutide for their health, access is problematic. Wegovy costs about $1,400 per month pay out of pocket, According to NPR. A patient who cannot refill their semaglutide prescriptions may face health challenges, either from not having treatment for their diabetes or from rapidly gaining weight again.

Most patients will regain the weight they have lost Semaglutide is taken when it is stopped, which means it must be taken continuously to remain effective. Weight cycling, when people lose weight and gain it back repeatedly due to dieting or other methods, is associated with various health risks, including: Increased death rate. Meanwhile, if you’ve been taking medication to keep your blood sugar levels stable and then quit cold turkey, returning to high blood sugar could increase your risk. Other health problemssuch as a stroke.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.