Science

Ozempic and Wegovy: Everything you need to know about the semaglutide drugs

Ozempic and Wegovy: Everything you need to know about the semaglutide drugs

Ozempic may cause weight reduction in folks with sort 2 diabetes

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Ozempic and Wegovy are model names for the drug semaglutide. Many international locations have permitted Wegovy for weight reduction in people who find themselves overweight or obese and Ozempic for folks with sort 2 diabetes.

How do these medication work?

Medication akin to semaglutide mimic the actions of a hormone referred to as glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1. These so-called GLP-1 analogues have a number of results, together with slowing abdomen emptying, appearing on the mind to cut back urge for food and boosting the discharge of insulin, which helps to manage blood sugar ranges.

For greater than a decade, GLP-1 analogues have been used to assist folks with sort 2 diabetes management their blood sugar and a few customers skilled modest weight reduction. “These medication increase a system that already exists throughout the human physique, whose function it’s to suppress urge for food following meal ingestion,” says Simon Cork at Imperial Faculty London.

Why are they making headlines now?

GLP-1 analogues have began to be prescribed for weight reduction in folks with out sort 2 diabetes. They’ve additionally develop into out there in formulations which are stronger and simpler to make use of.

Initially GLP-1 analogues had been permitted to be used at a decrease dose and wanted to be given by twice-daily injections. Within the newest formulations they’re once-weekly injections, with Wegovy’s full dose being 2.4 milligrams for weight reduction and Ozempic getting used at a most dose of two milligrams for sort 2 diabetes.

How broadly out there are they?

In 2021, Wegovy was permitted for weight reduction in a number of international locations, together with the US and Canada. Reward from some movie star customers introduced it widespread publicity.

Manufacturing issues meant its producer, Novo Nordisk, had hassle assembly world demand, so some medical doctors began prescribing Ozempic, which had been permitted for folks with sort 2 diabetes in sure international locations a number of years earlier. This led to shortages for individuals who required it for diabetes management.

Within the UK, Wegovy was permitted in 2021, however solely received the nod from England’s medical tips physique the Nationwide Institute for Well being and Care Excellence in March 2023, when it stated the drug needs to be given by weight reduction clinics throughout the nation’s nationwide well being service. Wegovy is anticipated to develop into out there within the UK this 12 months, whereas Ozempic has been out there for sort 2 diabetes since 2019.

In June 2023, the UK authorities introduced the introduction of a two-year pilot that offers folks with weight problems entry to new medication, akin to Wegovy, outdoors of a hospital setting.

How efficient are they?

Very. It’s a cliche however weight problems medical doctors are speaking a few paradigm shift within the subject of weight problems administration. Beforehand, a lack of about 5 per cent of physique weight can be thought-about a superb end result for any weight reduction intervention outdoors of abdomen surgical procedure and is taken into account a benchmark in weight problems drug trials.

Wegovy results in a few 15 per cent discount in physique weight over a 12 months, when mixed with train and consuming healthily.

In truth, some folks appear to really feel that the GLP-1 analogues have induced them to develop into too gaunt, as mirrored within the rise of the search phrases “Ozempic face” and “Ozempic butt”. “Ozempic doesn’t do something particular to the pores and skin,” says Alexander Miras at Ulster College, UK. It’s the weight reduction that causes these obvious unwanted effects, with related outcomes typically additionally occurring after weight reduction surgical procedure, he says.

Do the medication have any unwanted effects?

Unintended effects could be gentle, akin to nausea, constipation and diarrhoea, which are inclined to happen as folks get used to the drug. Extra worrying unwanted effects embrace irritation of the pancreas, though that is comparatively uncommon.

How about hair loss?

Hair loss has been reported by some semaglutide customers. That is additionally generally seen after important weight reduction from different causes, akin to abdomen surgical procedure, says Miras.

Hair loss following weight reduction surgical procedure is considered as a consequence of physiological stress on the physique inflicting an elevated variety of hair follicles to enter their “resting” section, which results in the hairs falling out just a few months later. It stops when the burden loss stabilises, nevertheless, the hair doesn’t all the time develop again, says Miras.

Do these medication additionally assist with addictions?

Maybe. There have been many anecdotal reviews of individuals taking these medicines for diabetes or weight management who lose their urge to drink alcohol or see waning of different habits that could possibly be described as “behavioural addictions”, akin to compulsive procuring.

That is supported by analysis in animals that discovered the GLP-1 analogues decrease consumption of alcohol and addictive medication. A small trial in folks has hinted at an analogous impact from a GLP-1 analogue referred to as exenatide, which decreased heavy consuming, however solely in individuals who had been overweight.

The reason could possibly be related with the way in which the medication act on the mind to cut back meals cravings, however the actual mechanism is unclear. We’re solely initially of understanding how these therapies may help folks with alcohol and drug additions, says Daniel Drucker at Sinai Well being in Toronto, Canada. “The scientific trial information isn’t but in to substantiate the anecdotes.”

What occurs to a person’s weight long-term?

The longest trial of Wegovy lasted two years and located that folks’s weight broadly plateaued within the second 12 months.

In most international locations, Wegovy has been permitted for 2 years’ use, but when folks cease taking the drug, they often regain the misplaced weight – two-thirds of it after one 12 months, based on one trial.

“The load loss is simply sustained for so long as the drug is taken as a result of as quickly as you cease the drug, all of these physiological processes which are making an attempt to get your physique weight again up kick in once more,” says Cork.

This means that after two years of use, there shall be demand from customers for medical doctors to proceed prescribing the drug “off label”. “I believe there’ll be an enormous push to attempt to change these tips,” says Cork.

Ozempic could be prescribed long-term for sort 2 diabetes as a result of the situation is often life-long.

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