Who ought to take Ozempic? A Chattanooga medical director weighs in on the weight-loss ‘miracle’ drug

In his weekly column, Occasions Free Press’ Mark Kennedy just lately wrote, “At first, the considered consuming a lot of something made me really feel sick. I ate loads of on the spot grits and saltines. I lower out all pink meats and most dairy merchandise.”

Kennedy, identified with kind II diabetes, started taking the tablet model of semaglutide, a drugs prescribed for diabetes, a few yr in the past. Since then, he says, “I misplaced about 30 kilos after which gained 10 kilos again when the appetite-suppressing impact wore off some.”

One of many uncomfortable side effects of semaglutide is weight reduction, which has led to some folks with out diabetes utilizing the drug off-label for weight reduction alone — celebrities specifically, because the medicine may be pricey.

The Week journal reported earlier this yr that, resulting from demand, semaglutide, offered underneath the model identify Ozempic, was briefly provide.

Chirag Patel, managing pharmacist at Hixson Pharmacy, says that whereas the pharmacy did expertise a scarcity earlier this yr, he was assured by the wholesale distributor that it was the results of a producing change — not demand. Now, he says that the problem has been resolved, and he’s not seeing a scarcity of the medicine at Hixson Pharmacy.

This is what else to know in regards to the “miracle weight reduction drug.”

What’s semaglutide?

Since its entrance into the U.S. market, the medicine semaglutide has been a game-changer. At a decrease dose, it’s offered underneath the model identify Ozempic and is FDA-approved to deal with kind II diabetes. At a better dose, it is called Wegovy and is authorized to deal with weight problems.

The New York Occasions has reported that semaglutide “alerts to our our bodies that we really feel full, prompting our stomachs to empty extra slowly.”

How did it get so widespread?

In October 2022, billionaire Elon Musk was requested on Twitter about his weight reduction, and he replied with “fasting” and “Wegovy.” Not lengthy after, the “miracle weight reduction drug” started trending on social media, with celebrities and influencers touting its speedy weight reduction results. Demand skyrocketed for semaglutide-derived medicine. Medical doctors started prescribing Ozempic off-label for weight reduction, that means the medicine was prescribed for a situation aside from what it was authorized for — which is a authorized and customary observe, in keeping with the Company for Healthcare and High quality.

#Ozempic has now been seen over 1 billion occasions and #Ozempicchallenge greater than 10 million occasions on TikTok.

In Could, each Wegovy and Ozempic have been positioned on the FDA’s “drug scarcity” checklist as a result of demand coupled with international provide points, sparking considerations for many who relied on the drug to handle their diabetes.

What does an area physician must say?

Dr. Jaime Ponce, medical director for CHI Memorial Hospital Bariatric Surgical procedure and Weight problems Drugs in Chattanooga, says each diabetes and weight problems are medical illnesses deserving of remedy. In response to the Harvard Faculty of Public Well being, 69.9% of People are both obese or overweight.

“Many sufferers with diabetes on this nation have a point of weight problems or are obese, which triggers the event of diabetes,” says Ponce. “Generally you want to deal with the weight problems in an effort to management the diabetes.”

Ponce has been training bariatric surgical procedure for greater than 20 years and says weight reduction drugs reminiscent of Ozempic and Wegovy are progressive for the way forward for weight problems remedy.

There isn’t a generic model of Ozempic. With drug producer Novo Nordisk holding the method, the corporate can management the worth of the drug. In response to the producer’s web site, a month’s provide of the medicine prices as little as $25 with insurance coverage and as a lot as $1,000 with out.

Even with insurance coverage, nonetheless, many insurance coverage firms deny approval until sufferers meet particular standards, says Ponce. To be a candidate for Ozempic, an individual have to be identified with kind II diabetes, have uncontrolled A1C ranges, have heart problems or be at excessive danger for heart problems and have kidney illness or coronary heart failure.

“Generally, it’s costly, and it is unrealistic to suppose that somebody goes to remain on a drug for that lengthy … with that price ticket,” says Ponce. “The drug must change into extra accessible.”

Ozempic and Wegovy have change into subjects of controvery in latest months. In June, Novo Nordisk introduced that it was pursuing authorized motion in opposition to a number of medical spas, weight reduction clinics and compound pharmacies for promoting unathorized variations of the favored medicine.

Compunded merchandise containing semaglutide should not at present FDA-approved and should expose sufferers to well being dangers. For that cause, Novo Nordisk is suing to guard sufferers in opposition to unsafe counterfeit merchandise, mentioned Doug Langa, the corporate’s president and govt vp of North American operations, in a press launch.

Ponce says that he is optimistic about the way forward for Ozempic and its potential to deal with the weight problems epidemic.

“I feel that is simply the tip of the iceberg in direction of the longer term,” he says.

  photo  Photograph by Ryan David Brown/The New York Occasions / An Ozempic injector pen.

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