Ozempic and Wegovy: Weight reduction, uncomfortable side effects and potential to deal with habit

Ozempic may cause weight reduction in folks with kind 2 diabetes and there are anecdotal stories that it might assist folks with addictions

Ute Grabowsky/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

Ozempic and Wegovy are model names for the drug semaglutide. Many international locations have accredited Wegovy for weight reduction in people who find themselves overweight or obese and Ozempic for folks with kind 2 diabetes.

How do these medication work?

Medicine comparable to semaglutide mimic the actions of a hormone referred to as glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1. These so-called GLP-1 analogues have a number of results, together with slowing abdomen emptying, appearing on the mind to cut back urge for food and boosting the discharge of insulin, which helps to manage blood sugar ranges.

For greater than a decade, GLP-1 analogues have been used to assist folks with kind 2 diabetes management their blood sugar and a few customers skilled modest weight reduction. “These medication increase a system that already exists inside the human physique, whose position it’s to suppress urge for food following meal ingestion,” says Simon Cork at Imperial Faculty London.

Why are they making headlines now?

GLP-1 analogues have began to be prescribed for weight reduction in folks with out kind 2 diabetes. They’ve additionally develop into accessible in formulations which can be stronger and simpler to make use of.

Initially GLP-1 analogues have been accredited to be used at a decrease dose and wanted to be given by twice-daily injections. Within the newest formulations they’re once-weekly injections, with Wegovy’s full dose being 2.4 milligrams for weight reduction and Ozempic getting used at a most dose of two milligrams for kind 2 diabetes.

How extensively accessible are they?

In 2021, Wegovy was accredited for weight reduction in a number of international locations, together with the US and Canada. Reward from some celeb customers introduced it widespread publicity.

Manufacturing issues meant its producer, Novo Nordisk, had bother assembly world demand, so some medical doctors began prescribing Ozempic, which had been accredited for folks with kind 2 diabetes in sure international locations a number of years earlier. This led to shortages for individuals who required it for diabetes management.

Within the UK, Wegovy was accredited in 2021, however solely obtained the nod from England’s medical tips physique the Nationwide Institute for Well being and Care Excellence in March 2023, when it stated the drug needs to be given by weight reduction clinics inside the nation’s nationwide well being service. Wegovy is predicted to develop into accessible within the UK this 12 months, whereas Ozempic has been accessible for kind 2 diabetes since 2019.

How efficient are they?

Very. It’s a cliche however weight problems medical doctors are speaking a few paradigm shift within the discipline of weight problems administration. Beforehand, a lack of about 5 per cent of physique weight could be thought of an excellent outcome for any weight reduction intervention outdoors of abdomen surgical procedure and is taken into account a benchmark in weight problems drug trials.

Wegovy results in a few 15 per cent discount in physique weight over a 12 months, when mixed with train and consuming healthily.

In reality, some folks appear to really feel that the GLP-1 analogues have brought about them to develop into too gaunt, as mirrored within the rise of the search phrases “Ozempic face” and “Ozempic butt”. “Ozempic doesn’t do something particular to the pores and skin,” says Alexander Miras at Ulster College, UK. It’s the weight reduction that causes these obvious uncomfortable side effects, with related outcomes typically additionally occurring after weight reduction surgical procedure, he says.

Do the medication have any uncomfortable side effects?

Negative effects could be gentle, comparable to nausea, constipation and diarrhoea, which are likely to happen as folks get used to the drug. Extra worrying uncomfortable side effects embrace irritation of the pancreas, though that is comparatively uncommon.

How about hair loss?

Hair loss has been reported by some semaglutide customers. That is additionally typically seen after vital weight reduction from different causes, comparable to abdomen surgical procedure, says Miras.

Hair loss following weight reduction surgical procedure is considered attributable to physiological stress on the physique inflicting an elevated variety of hair follicles to enter their “resting” part, which ends up in the hairs falling out a number of months later. It stops when the burden loss stabilises, nevertheless, the hair doesn’t at all times develop again, says Miras.

Do these medication additionally assist with addictions?

Maybe. There have been many anecdotal stories of individuals taking these medicines for diabetes or weight management who lose their urge to drink alcohol or see waning of different habits that may very well be described as “behavioural addictions”, comparable to compulsive procuring.

That is supported by analysis in animals that discovered the GLP-1 analogues decrease consumption of alcohol and addictive medication. A small trial in folks has hinted at an analogous impact from a GLP-1 analogue referred to as exenatide, which decreased heavy consuming, however solely in individuals who have been overweight.

The reason may very well be related with the best way the medication act on the mind to cut back meals cravings, however the actual mechanism is unclear. We’re solely in the beginning of understanding how these therapies might assist folks with alcohol and drug additions, says Daniel Drucker at Sinai Well being in Toronto, Canada. “The medical trial knowledge shouldn’t be but in to substantiate the anecdotes.”

What occurs to a consumer’s weight long-term?

The longest trial of Wegovy lasted two years and located that folks’s weight broadly plateaued within the second 12 months.

In most international locations, Wegovy has been accredited for 2 years’ use, but when folks cease taking the drug, they typically regain the misplaced weight – two-thirds of it after one 12 months, based on one trial.

“The burden loss is barely sustained for so long as the drug is taken as a result of as quickly as you cease the drug, all of these physiological processes which can be making an attempt to get your physique weight again up kick in once more,” says Cork.

This means that after two years of use, there shall be demand from shoppers for medical doctors to proceed prescribing the drug “off label”. “I believe there’ll be a giant push to attempt to change these tips,” says Cork.

Ozempic could be prescribed long-term for kind 2 diabetes as a result of the situation is normally life-long.


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