What You Need to Know About the Hot New Weight Loss Drug

First developed in 2012, semaglutide has been an essential therapy for diabetes sufferers since 2017. Yet, recently, the drug — under the brand name Ozempic — has become popular as a tool for weight loss. Indeed, using Ozempic for weight loss seems to be effective, but before you make an appointment with your healthcare provider, here are a few things you should know about the drug.

Semaglutide Suppresses Appetite

Semaglutide falls into a class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists, which means that once the compound is in the body’s blood stream, it bonds to receptors responsible for releasing a hormone that encourages the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin is the essential hormone that every person needs to regulate their blood sugar and energy levels, and it is most associated with diabetics, who must take extra insulin due to pancreas malfunctions or insulin resistance.

However, at higher doses, semaglutide also travels to the brain, where it suppresses feelings of hunger and reduces a patient’s appetite. Thus, semaglutide used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet can be highly effective at helping patients drop unwanted weight. Already, Ozempic has been approved by the FDA for use in treating diabetes, and Wegovy — the brand name for a higher dose of semaglutide required for weight loss — has been approved for prescription to patients with BMIs of 27 or higher.

Ozempic Requires Weekly Shots

Though the makers of Ozempic and Wegovy are working hard to develop a more convenient method of application for their medication, at present, the only effective way to take semaglutide is as a weekly injection. Fortunately, patients can learn to administer the doses themselves, using pens that are conveniently pre-loaded with the correct amount of the drug to manage their weight and health. Patients who are uncomfortable using needles may prefer to wait to procure semaglutide until there is another administration method available, such as oral tablets.

Ozempic Has Side Effects

Every medication has side effects, and patients interested in using a drug should put effort into understanding potential side effects before they begin treatment. The most common side effects associated with Ozempic and Wegovy include intense nausea, especially after eating, as well as diarrhea and abdominal pain, vomiting and constipation. The makers of the drug have many suggestions for preventing these side effects, such as focusing on maintaining proper hydration, eating bland foods, avoiding excess grease or sugar and consuming meals slowly.

However, there are additional and much more severe side effects that some patients are at risk of developing. Patients could experience issues commonly associated with high insulin, such as inflammation of the pancreas, kidney disease and failure, gallbladder problems and serious allergic reactions to the drug. Those who tend to be sensitive to new medications might talk to their healthcare provider about the potential for these side effects.

Ozempic for weight loss

There Is a Global Shortage of Semaglutide

Semaglutide is receiving a wave of attention as some doctors hail the drug as a “game changer” when it comes to weight loss — despite the facts that it is not terribly revolutionary in its effects, that has many of the same limitations of previous weight loss drugs and that little is known about its long-term effects. Still, many patients around the world are eager to take advantage of the potential of semaglutide for weight loss, and healthcare providers around the world are happy to prescribe the drug to meet demand.

Unfortunately, the use of semaglutide in weight loss was not anticipated by the medication’s manufacturer, Novo Nordisk. Beginning first in Australia and eventually spreading to the U.S. and Europe, there is a widespread shortage of Ozempic — to the extent that not even those using the drug for diabetes management can be guaranteed access. This is potentially exceedingly dangerous to those suffering from diabetes, so those without other pressing medical needs might opt to wait to pursue Ozempic for weight loss until the shortage has passed.

This Isn’t a Long-term Weight Loss Strategy

Studies have found that over a treatment period of about 68 weeks — which is well over a year — trial participants with high BMIs were able to lose between 10 and 20 percent of their body weight. Yet, as soon as they stopped taking their injections, they began regaining the weight they had lost. This is because as soon as semaglutide leaves the system, a patient’s appetite will come roaring back, and they will fall into the same habits they maintained before they began taking the medication. What’s more, Ozempic is a relatively new drug, and researchers are not certain about the effects associated with taking such high doses for such an extended period of time. Patients could be putting their health and wellness at serious risk by committing to long-term use of a drug to lose a relatively small amount of body fat.

In truth, there is no effective way to lose a large amount of weight and keep that weight off for the rest of one’s life. Research has found that roughly 80 percent of individuals who lose a significant portion of their body fat will not be able to maintain their weight loss for more than 12 months. Unless and until Ozempic is deemed safe for long-term use, it might be best to find happiness and health in other ways.