What is All the Fuss about Ozempic?
Hailed as a miracle weight loss drug with currently over 470 million views on TikTok, thanks
mainly by being highlighted by celebrities and influencers. The #Ozempic craze comes with
grim side effects for those after a quick fix, and enormous dangers for people with type 2
diabetes whose medicines are now in short supply. Many of the promoters are not obese,
and healthcare professionals fear that the association between Wegovy and weight loss is
leading many to view it as a super-effective diet aid, rather than a critical medication for
people with life-threatening conditions.
What is Ozempic/Wegovy?
Ozempic is an FDA and EMA (European Medicines Agency) approved prescription only
medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults. It helps improve blood sugar in
adults with type 2 diabetes and is proven to lower haemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood
glucose over time, according to research cited on Ozempic’s site. It also helps adults with
type 2 diabetes and known heart disease lower their risk for cardiovascular events like
stroke or heart attack. It’s injected by the patient through their skin once a week using pre-
filled pens containing a solution for injection.
The active compound in Ozempic, “semaglutide”, is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)
receptor agonist. It works by activating GLP-1 receptors throughout the body and enhancing
the effects of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1.
People with type 2 diabetes who use Ozempic can lose weight while using the medication,
which happens partly due to its effect on:
● Reducing your appetite so you eat less
● Slowing down the movement of food in your gut meaning you stay full for longer.
Ozempic was not licensed for weight loss, but in 2021 the FDA approved semaglutide, its
active ingredient, under the brand name Wegovy for chronic weight management in adults
with obesity or overweight with at least one related condition – such as high blood pressure,
Type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. Both are manufactured by Danish pharmaceutical
company Novo Nordisk. However, Wegovy provides a higher dose of semaglutide than
Ozempic—2.4 mg of semaglutide in Wegovy compared with 0.5 mg, 1 mg or 2 mg of
semaglutide in Ozempic.
It is worth noting, that the clinical trials involved administering varying doses of semaglutide
or a placebo once a week for 68 weeks. Participants received individual counselling sessions
every 4 weeks to help them adhere to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity
(with 150 minutes per week).
While taking semaglutide may help you lose weight while you are on the drug, most people
will regain much of that weight if they discontinue using it. GLP-1 medications are designed
to be taken long-term, they are chronic medications for the treatment of chronic conditions
(both diabetes and obesity). As with any medicine there are side effects; Wegovy carries
warnings for “inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), gallbladder problems (including
gallstones), low blood sugar, acute kidney injury, diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eye & retina), increased heart rate and suicidal behaviour or thinking”.
Demand Outstrips Supply
Wegovy and Ozempic’s global hype has created rising demand for them, due to those who
share their weight loss results and swap side effects war stories on social media. These
medicines should only be used under medical supervision and with a legitimate prescription
from your doctor. Prescription guidelines vary from country to country, but Ozempic has not
been extensively studied for use in patients without diabetes or excess weight.
Unfortunately, the popularity has created a demand to get these injected medicines from
unregulated sources. This has resulted in both Ozempic and Wegovy being listed as
medications in short supply. Not great news, as the scarcity of these drugs has dire
implications for those with type 2 diabetes. Without proper treatment, they risk blood sugar
spikes that can prove incredibly dangerous, even in the short term.