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Semaglutide: The science behind the burden loss medication Ozempic and Wegovy



Ozempic could cause weight reduction in individuals with kind 2 diabetes

Florian Gaertner/Photothek/Getty Photographs

Ozempic and Wegovy are model names for the drug semaglutide. Many nations have accredited Wegovy for weight reduction in people who find themselves overweight or chubby and Ozempic for individuals with kind 2 diabetes.

How do these medication work?

Medication resembling semaglutide mimic the actions of a hormone known 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 individuals with kind 2 diabetes management their blood sugar and a few customers skilled modest weight reduction. “These drugs augment a system that already exists within the human body, whose role it is to suppress appetite following meal ingestion,” says Simon Cork at Imperial School London.

Why are they making headlines now?

GLP-1 analogues have began to be prescribed for weight reduction in individuals with out kind 2 diabetes. They’ve additionally grow to be out there in formulations which might be stronger and simpler to make use of.

Initially GLP-1 analogues had 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 broadly out there are they?

In 2021, Wegovy was accredited for weight reduction in a number of nations, 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 individuals with kind 2 diabetes in sure nations 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 mentioned the drug must be given by weight reduction clinics inside the nation’s nationwide well being service. Wegovy is anticipated to grow to be out there within the UK this 12 months, whereas Ozempic has been out there 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 a great consequence 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 individuals appear to really feel that the GLP-1 analogues have brought about them to grow to be too gaunt, as mirrored within the rise of the search phrases “Ozempic face” and “Ozempic butt”. “Ozempic doesn’t do anything specific to the skin,” says Alexander Miras at Ulster College, UK. It’s the weight reduction that causes these obvious unwanted effects, with comparable outcomes usually additionally occurring after weight reduction surgical procedure, he says.

Do the medication have any unwanted effects?

Negative effects may be gentle, resembling nausea, constipation and diarrhoea, which are likely to happen as individuals get used to the drug. Extra worrying unwanted 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 generally seen after important weight reduction from different causes, resembling abdomen surgical procedure, says Miras.

Hair loss following weight reduction surgical procedure is regarded as as a result of 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 couple of months later. It stops when the burden loss stabilises, nonetheless, the hair doesn’t all the time develop again, says Miras.

What occurs to a person’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 nations, Wegovy has been accredited for 2 years’ use, but when individuals cease taking the drug, they often regain the misplaced weight – two-thirds of it after one 12 months, in accordance with one trial.

“The weight loss is only sustained for as long as the drug is taken because as soon as you stop the drug, all of those physiological processes that are trying to get your body weight back up kick in again,” says Cork.

This implies that after two years of use, there will likely be demand from customers for medical doctors to proceed prescribing the drug “off label”. “I think there’ll be a big push to try to change those guidelines,” says Cork.

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


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