What is weight loss drug Semaglutide? What are Ozempic’s side effects?
A diet pill dubbed “Hollywood's best kept secret” is due to hit shelves in the UK within weeks.
Semaglutide — marketed as Wegovy for those who are overweight or obese — will be available at Boots pharmacies from spring.
Ozempic, a wonder drug containing the same ingredient, is already on the market in the UK, but only for diabetics on the NHS.
Patients who want to get the Miracle Weight Loss Shot must have a BMI of at least 35 and a weight-related medical condition, such as heart disease. It will only be thrown after consulting.
Both Elon Musk and Jeremy Clarkson have publicly praised semaglutide for helping them lose weight.
Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian is rumored to use it to shed 16 lbs (7.3 kg) quickly at the 2022 Met Gala to wear Marilyn Monroe's iconic “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress.
Semaglutide, marketed as Wegovy for people who are overweight or obese, will be available in drugstores starting in spring
Wegovy and Ozempic work by triggering the body to produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1, which is naturally released from the gut after meals
How does semaglutide work?
Semaglutide acts like a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), targeting the area of the brain that regulates appetite and food intake — making users feel less hungry.
It also slows the movement of food through the gut, helping users feel fuller for longer.
Most importantly, it signals the body to release insulin, which helps move digested sugar from the bloodstream into cells, where it can be used for energy.
Clinical trials showed that people taking the drug lost an average of 15.3kg (2 stone and 6lb) over 15 months, compared with only 2.6kg (6lb) in the placebo group.
It is injected once a week, directly into the stomach, thigh, or upper arm.
How is Ozempic different from Wegovy?
Confusingly, semaglutide is labeled as two different drugs, both made by Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk.
Ozempic is aimed at people with type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood sugar, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with heart disease.
The sister drug, Wegovy, contains a slightly more potent dose of semaglutide, but is aimed at people who are overweight.
Celebrities including Elon Musk, Jeremy Clarkson and Remy Budd have spoken out about the ‘truly incredible' Ozempic, which suppresses appetite and makes users feel fuller
who can get it
Wegovy will be available in the UK in spring.
But only for adults with at least one weight-related medical condition and a BMI of 35 or higher, which is classified as obese, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance.
However, in special cases, people with a BMI of 30 to 35 who are also obese may take the drug. Patients can take the drug for up to two years.
Since 2021, Wegovy has been available to Americans who are overweight and have at least one weight-related medical condition.
Meanwhile, the NHS regulator approved Ozempic for people with type 2 diabetes in 2019. U.S. health chiefs gave the green light to the same group in 2017.
But private clinics in the UK can provide patients with the off-label drug for less than £200 a month, while in the US it is provided for free.
However, doctors say off-label prescribing is a “very dodgy justification” because doctors are not allowed to market drugs for treatment outside of the product's license.
Novo Nordisk has warned that it does not support off-label prescribing, which could limit availability for people with type 2 diabetes who have been prescribed the drug.
Boots has said it will prescribe and dispense the drug. People can register their interest in treatment online at Superdrug and Lloyds Pharmacy. A month's supply costs £73.25, but it is unclear what price the NHS has agreed on for the treatment.
Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson (left) revealed this month that he takes Ozempic to lose weight. Asked in October whether he followed a healthier diet or hit the gym for his 30lb (13.6kg) weight loss, Elon Musk (right) attributed it to “fasting” and “Wegovy”
Kim Kardashian is rumored to have used a Wegovy to lose weight quickly so she could wear Marilyn Monroe's famous ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President' gown at the 2022 Met Gala (pictured)
What are the side effects?
Like all medicines, semaglutide is not completely risk-free.
Users commonly complain of nausea, constipation, and diarrhea, while some also experience acid reflux, fatigue, and complain that food doesn't taste the same after taking the drug.
It's this side effect that some people believe further helps them lose weight — by making their favorite junk food unpalatable.
Thyroid cancer, pancreatitis (when the organ becomes inflamed), and kidney failure are rare but serious side effects.
Patients also warn that their faces appear gaunt, tired and old – a side effect known as “ozone face”.