Weighing the Benefits and Drawbacks of Ozempic and Wegovy for Weight Loss
The diabetes drug Ozempic, whose generic name is semaglutide, has become increasingly popular in recent months, not just for treating type 2 diabetes but also for its weight loss benefits. Ozempic is an injectable medication manufactured by Novo Nordisk that contains semaglutide, a hormone that helps regulate insulin and suppress appetite. The drug was approved by the FDA in 2017 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and has been used off-label as a weight loss drug.
Wegovy, also produced by Novo Nordisk and containing semaglutide as its active ingredient, was approved in 2021 for weight loss. While the two drugs are similar, they are not interchangeable and have different maximum doses – Ozempic's maximum dose is 2 milligrams while Wegovy's is 2.4 milligrams.
In clinical trials, people taking Wegovy lost an average of 12.4% of their body weight, but it comes with a hefty price tag – out of pocket, a one-month supply can cost upwards of $1,300. While insurance may cover the drug for diabetes, it is less likely to do so for weight loss.
Common side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation, and “Ozempic face” – a loss of some of the facial fat that's associated with a younger or more youthful look. But there are more serious potential side effects, including pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, kidney problems, and rebound weight gain once the drug is stopped.
Due to the high demand for Wegovy, the drug is now on the FDA's shortage list, and physicians have expressed concerns that shortages fueled by increased demand could prevent people with diabetes from getting the medication they need. Because of this, some people have been using Ozempic off-label for weight loss, contributing to a shortage of the drug.
It's important to consult with your doctor before taking Ozempic or Wegovy as there are better ways to get the help you need to reach a healthy weight if you are overweight or obese. Ozempic is not for everyone and it comes with its own set of side effects.
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