A growing number of individuals are turning to diabetes drug to help with weight loss. But experts warn that it’s not an all-purpose drug.
Ozempic, a medication that is used to treat diabetes has recently gained attention as stars including a tech mogul as well as TikTok influencers have spoken about taking Ozempic to lose weight in a short period of time.
The Food and Drug Administration first approved the injectable drug to treat diabetes in 2017. The agency also approved a medication with an increased dose that contains the ingredient active in Ozempic called semaglutide to treat obesity by 2021 as a brand called Wegovy. Since then, discussion of the drug has surfaced on the internet. Elon Musk was asked if the look of his body was “fit and healthy” said he took Wegovy. Andy Cohen posted about Ozempic’s rising popularity. On September 1, Variety reported that actors and their producers “are still singing the praises of the drug” on Signal, a secure messaging application. On TikTok the hashtag #Ozempic has been seen more than 273 million times with people expressing surprise at their supposed weight loss and exchanging stories of side adverse effects.
Today, the F.D.A. has identified both Ozempic as well as Wegovy as being two of the dozens of medicines that are out of stock. A representative from Novo Nordisk, which manufactures the drugs, said in an official statement that the company has been experiencing “intermittent supply disruptions for various dosages of Ozempic owing to the tremendous demand, coupled with global supply limitations.” The official said that the issue of Wegovy will likely to be resolved in the near future, and that it is “on the right track” to have all dosage strengths of the drug available by the end of December.
It’s not uncommon for physicians to prescribe medication for “off-label” usage or to serve a different use than the one the drug is specifically designed for, explained the Dr. Disha Narang, an endocrinologist at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. Since the popularity of Ozempic has been growing, some experts believe more patients have been seeking ways to use the medication for weight loss through either getting a doctor to prescribe it off-label or searching for the drug on the internet. Doctor. Narang herself has seen patients “who have somehow managed to get access to this drug,” taking the medication off-label. (Dr. Narang previously served on an advisory panel of Novo Nordisk, a common procedure for doctors within the area.)
She is concerned that as the drug becomes more popular, people will begin to associate them to “vanity,” not as an essential medication for diabetic patients.
What we know about what medications is able to, and cannot do, and for whom should take it.
What is Ozempic function?
Ozempic, as well as Wegovy are each designed to be injected at least once per week into the stomach, thigh , or arm.
Semaglutide reduces the blood sugar level and also regulates insulin levels, which is vital for people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes. The drug also mimics the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 which is produced naturally in our intestines. It reduces appetite by telling our bodies that we are full, and prompting the stomach to empty slowly. This is why people who suffer from obesity and health problems have shed excess weight while taking the drug. The feeling of fullness is faster for people as per doctor. Janice Jin Hwang, head of the department of metabolism and endocrinology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. For those taking the medication, “foods that used to be awe-inspiring to them aren’t anymore exciting,” she said. The medication hasn’t been thoroughly studied in patients with diabetes or weight issues.
The medication also helps reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in people who have diabetes, according to doctor. Robert Gabbay, chief medical and scientific officer at the American Diabetes Association.
The F.D.A. has not given approval to Ozempic to treat weight loss, said that Dr. Andrew Kraftson, a clinical associate professor in the department of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetology at Michigan Medicine. However, once the F.D.A. approved Wegovy to help lose weight There was such a need for the drug that some health professionals were forced to use Ozempic because they were unable to obtain Wegovy the drug, he said.
As some individuals receive medications to treat high cholesterol or blood pressure for an indefinite period, certain patients suffering from overweight may be prescribed medication such as Wegovy for a long time frame according to the doctor. Kraftson said. Patients who stop Wegovy may regain the weight they lost on Wegovy Dr. Kraftson said.
“These medicines were not created for overweight people who would like to drop weight to become ultra thin.” Dr. Hwang declared.
Who should be taking Ozempic as well as Wegovy?
Following the F.D.A. approved Ozempic for people suffering from Type 2 diabetes, the agency has also approved Wegovy for people who have excessive weight or obesity, with at minimum one “weight-related disease,” which the agency is able to determine to be conditions like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. The F.D.A. defines obesity and excess with an metric called the Body Mass Index, an well-established, but highly debated measure.
The medication is pricey with no insurance coverage — the price of the medication on the market for Wegovy is more than $1300 for a 28-day supply and Ozempic could cost as much as $892 per month without insurance . those who don’t meet F.D.A. requirements will probably be unable to obtain insurance coverage to cover the cost.
Despite these obstacles, the increasing number of patients taking Ozempic off-label could be causing the issue of the drug, Narang said. Narang said, noting that those suffering from obesity and diabetes are having trouble to get access to the medication.
“It’s been truly, truly awful as patients aren’t sure what to do,” she said. “We’ve felt like hamsters on the wheel trying to understand this.”
“While we acknowledge that certain health professionals may prescribe Ozempic to patients who want to shed weight, it’s up the decision-making of every health care professional to select the appropriate approach to treatment to their clients,” a representative from Novo Nordisk wrote in a statement that stated that the company will not “promote or suggest the use of medications that are not on our label.”
What are the possible side consequences?
Patients taking Ozempic as well as Wegovy in combination for F.D.A. approved and off-label use could feel vomiting and thirst. Some patients may experience fatigue and feel malaise. They may also experience a change in their bowel movements as some patients experience diarrhea while others becoming extremely constipated. “It can get so bad that people visit in the E.R.,” Dr. Kraftson said. “It’s not a fun.” Patients must be closely monitored when taking these medications Dr. Kraftson said. He also explained that doctors can prescribe anti-nausea medication and stool softeners or laxatives. In some cases medications can raise the chance of developing pancreatitis an ailment that causes inflammation of the pancreas. Patients may also develop gallstones. Doctor. Gabbay said he had seen patients who suffered from extreme vomiting that they needed to discontinue taking the medication.
Doctors usually begin patients on low doses of medication such as Ozempic as well as Wegovy and gradually ramp up to reduce negative side negative effects the doctor. Gabbay said.
Does using these medications off-label drugs a risk?
Doctors claim there’s not enough evidence to conclude whether these medications are useful or harmful for those who do not meet F.D.A.’s requirements. Although tempting the thought of a medication for weight loss might be, experts warned against anyone who is seeking the drug for use off-label. The people who use Ozempic or Wegovy should be watched closely according to the doctor. Kraftson said. “If you’re receiving this via the internet there won’t be the same levels that protect you,” he said. “I do not want to watch people gamble in their own health.”
The drug isn’t extensively tested on patients who weigh less according to Dr. Hwang said, and it’s possible that people not in the same group which the drug is designed for may experience more severe negative effects. In the absence of further studies it’s not clear how harmful these negative side effects can be.
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