Do Wegovy and Ozempic work for weight loss?

Wegovy and Ozempic are touted as weight-loss “miracles” — and that's probably true, as long as you can afford the drugs. Studies have shown that patients lose more weight when compared with other medications used for weight loss.

The two drugs are approved for different people — they use different doses of the lab-made hormone semaglutide, which is expensive to inject once a week. Wegovy has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for chronic weight management in those who are overweight and have related conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Ozempic for Type 2 Diabetes – Weight Loss Side Effects Was an Unexpected Finding. Shooting costs approximately $1,400 per month.

In clinical trials, Wegovy patients lost an average of 15% of their body weight over 68 weeks, compared with 5% to 10% in patients on other weight-loss drugs, Science Alert said.

The weight loss stems from the hormone being a glucagon-like peptide-1, which mimics the satiety hormone, telling people they feel full and don't need to keep eating. The drugs are produced by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

The high monthly fee has not been a barrier to many of the celebrities touting the drug, creating considerable hype.As Deseret News reported in January, Ozempic is popular with Hollywood celebrities and other affluent patients,” the hashtag #ozempic has more than 450 million views on TikTok. Elon Musk will notably Weight loss attributed to medication TwitterMindy Kaling is rumored to be throwing an “Ozempic party.”

But for those who have to pay for the drugs themselves, the so-called miracles, even if they are within reach, may be temporary. Experts say the drugs need to be taken long-term, and if patients stop using them, the weight will regain.

Dr. RR Richard Rasmussen, a gastroenterologist and general surgeon at Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital and an expert in medically supervised weight loss, told Deseret News that the drugs are new enough that the effects of long-term use are unknown, either.

At the same time, some argue that low-income populations may not have access to these drugs, even though they disproportionately face many of the potentially dire health consequences of America's overweight epidemic.

A semaglutide-based drug “is not a panacea,” Dr. Marcus Shabacker, chief executive of the independent nonprofit ECRI, which focuses on health care safety, quality and cost-effectiveness, told Deseret News. “But they need to be part of a well-thought-out treatment plan that includes dietary changes, lifestyle changes, exercise, access to healthy foods as well as medications. They are certainly part of a treatment regimen that is proven to work – except that many cannot afford it cost of.”

For those who can afford it, there's another challenge right now — Ozempic is in short supply, and many people are prescribed it to manage their diabetes but can't find any at their local pharmacy.

America's weight problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4 in 10 U.S. adults are obese — not overweight, but obese — raising the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers risk. Leading cause of “premature preventable death”.

Being over a healthy weight can also increase musculoskeletal problems and joint wear and tear.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans age 20 and older are overweight, according to the CDC. Obesity rates are higher in rural areas of the country than in urban and suburban areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that the annual medical costs of obesity in the United States are approximately $173 billion. Obese adults have nearly $2,000 more in annual medical costs than healthy-weight adults.

According to ECRI, Americans spend up to $70 billion a year on weight loss.

As NPR reports, “Of course, exercise and diet modifications are still the first strategies to try. But given that approximately 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and more than one-third Many people have prediabetes, and physician groups say there is an urgent need for more interventions that could help.”

Rasmussen said he doesn't prescribe diet pills, “but when I talk to patients who take them, when I talk to people who prescribe them, they're very optimistic. weight.”

Some have suggested that semaglutide-based drugs could be the equivalent of chemical gastric bypass surgery, replacing surgery, he said. “I think it's too early to say for sure. But hey, how good would it be if you could significantly lose weight and manage type 2 diabetes and heart disease without the risk of surgery?”

Shabacker notes that neither the Wegovy nor the Ozempic are suitable for casual users who want to lose a few pounds or “sculpt your body.” They are for people who are visibly overweight.

Side effects can be troublesome. These are usually but not always stomach pains and include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn. Some patients also complain of pain associated with pancreatitis. NPR reports that patients with a family history of thyroid cancer need to be aware and discuss with their doctor whether they are at special risk. “The drug does carry a boxed warning because it caused thyroid tumors in rodent studies.”

rebound weight

One concern with using Wegovy as a weight loss drug is the potential for weight regain if the drug is stopped.

Because the drugs using semaglutide are new, “I don't think we know” whether they need to be taken for life, Rasmussen said. “There are definitely some patients who seem to regain the weight when they stop taking it. … But how much have they changed their habits?

Weight can be regained for different reasons through different treatments, including surgery, Rasmussen said. “We often find in patients that they fall back into some old habits and eat foods that their body can't tolerate,” he said, pointing to a way of thinking that obesity is an intolerance to carbohydrates. “And our modern food supply is rife with carbohydrates in all forms, so the deck is against anyone who is genetically predisposed.”

Not everyone who regains weight doesn't stick to the plan, he added, noting that obesity is a chronic disease. “If someone has high blood pressure and you treat them with one drug and it doesn't work well, then you need to add a second drug, sometimes a third drug. Similar to obesity, if they have surgery and Weight is regained, then maybe they do need to add drugs or meal replacements or other tools that are useful in treating obesity.”

For those who regain weight, another factor may be involved, he said. “If you're obese and lose a lot of weight, the data show that you'll always need to consume fewer calories than someone else of the same weight.”

Many subsidized foods that can be made and sold more cheaply “contain ingredients that are less effective for our bodies,” Rasmussen said. For people of lower socioeconomic status, food eats up more of their budget.

The convenience aspect also plays a role. People who are exhausted at the end of the day eat out more and eat more prepared, processed foods. “Our society just pushes us in that direction,” he said.

While insurance may cover obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure, many do not cover the cost of treating obesity itself, Rasmussen said.

“It’s really interesting. For example, if you look at bariatric surgery, there’s actually a return on investment. You can prove after two or three years that the insurance company will actually save money, but they’re living in a world where they only look at once a year.” world,” he said.

When the Affordable Care Act passed, 22 states included bariatric surgery as a benefit, Rasmussen said, while 28 did not. Colorado is the only state that went from not having converted to having converted.

“That creates a barrier because for the cheapest insurance plan, no one wants to add it. That's where you come back to the socioeconomic discussion,” he said. “That's where a lot of patients come to market — in those types of programs.”

overcome costs

ECRI believes that effective weight-loss drugs should be treated like other drugs and “de-stigmatized,” Shabacker said. When someone has high blood pressure, they may be encouraged to exercise and watch their diet, but they also take beta-blockers. He said exercise and diet were crucial to tackling obesity, but effective drug treatment was also important.

In a position paper published in December 2022, ECRI said, “There is substantial evidence that these drugs are beneficial as an adjunct to diet, exercise and counselling, and they should be considered as first-line treatment for many patients.”

With regard to weight loss drugs in general, ECRI added, “Widespread skepticism among patients and physicians, unrealistic expectations of rapid weight loss, and drug side effects have limited uptake; however, the most important barrier is funding. … …most Americans can only get diet pills through health insurance, but these drugs have limited coverage. Diet pills are excluded from Medicare Part D plan requirements and most state plans for Medicaid that qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies And private plans do not include diet pills.”

According to Shabacker, pressure should be on both patients and physicians to reduce costs and expand coverage, including through Medicare and Medicaid. Insurance companies should talk to manufacturers and ask for more drug coverage at reasonable prices.

“It takes a village,” he said, “and people who work on Capitol Hill and make policy — they’re visited by lobbyists more than I care about, they just have to take a stand.”

A social problem like obesity creates a social responsibility, he said.

He stressed that ECRI was proud of its independence. “We have no reason to talk about it other than we are interested in the well-being of the population there and the patients. So we have no secondary motives — we’re not getting paid from Novo Nordisk or anyone.”

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