What weight loss drugs Wegovy or Ozempic do and who they are for

Health experts say it's important for patients to understand who these types of medications currently on the market are for.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A viral weight-loss trend has been blamed for diabetes drug shortages. Celebrities and influencers are using drugs like Ozempic to help with weight loss. This injected drug improves blood sugar and heart function, but also suppresses appetite.

Dr. Jessica Bartfield works at the Weight Management Center at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. It's important for patients to understand the targets of the class of drugs currently on the market, she said.

“I think one of the most important aspects of this is the difference in the drugs that are approved for type 2 diabetes treatment, and the differences in the drugs that are approved for weight management and therefore who are the best candidates to use those drugs,” Dr. Bartfield said.

A lower dose under the brand name Ozempic is approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, while a higher dose under the brand name Wegovy is approved for weight loss management, Dr. Bartfield said.

“Thus, patients who have not been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but who could benefit from this drug as part of their weight management treatment plan should use this dose rather than the lower dose.”

Both drugs should be used under medical supervision and after discussion with a healthcare provider, Dr. Butterfield said. She said insurance usually doesn't cover the use of these drugs specifically for weight management. On average, these patients are billed between $1,000 and $1,400 a month, she said.

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