Weighing the Risks: Understanding the Side Effects of Ozempic and Wegovy for Weight Loss

Semaglutide, a drug commonly known as Ozempic, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Type 2 diabetes since 2017.[0] However, during pre-approval studies, researchers noticed a remarkable side effect: people lost weight.[1] This led to the 2021 FDA approval of Wegovy, a higher dosage of semaglutide, for people with obesity (BMI of 30 or greater), or who were overweight (with a BMI of 27 to 29.9) and had a medical problem related to excess weight, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.[1]

Novo Nordisk states that the most frequent adverse reactions to Ozempic and Wegovy are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort and constipation. The manufacturer states that Ozempic and Wegovy may potentially lead to pancreatitis, gallbladder issues, kidney issues, and a variety of other issues.

Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical giant that produces both Ozempic and Wegovy, reports that the maximum dose for Ozempic is 2 milligrams and for Wegovy is 2.4 milligrams.[0] The company stated that their products are not interchangeable.[2] In the largest placebo-controlled trial, those who took Wegovy for a period of 16 months saw an average decrease of 12% in their body weight, as found by the FDA.[3]

The drug's newfound popularity has caused a shortage of the medication, as healthy people are taking it to lose weight instead of those with diabetes.[0] Doctors are warning about potential side effects of using Ozempic for weight loss, such as gut problems and damage to the pancreas.[4] Additionally, patients must keep taking semaglutide for the drug to keep working — otherwise, they will regain two-thirds of their prior weight loss.[3]

It is important to talk to your doctor about a full range of treatment options if you are overweight or obese. Ozempic is not a short-term cosmetic fix, but a long-term treatment for people who have health problems related to obesity. [2]It's not a good idea to take the medication to become thinner if your weight is already in a healthy range.[1]

0. “Why Ozembic? Run on diabetes drug for off-label use has insurance angle” Palm Beach Post, 20 Feb. 2023, https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/entertainment/local-celebrity/2023/02/20/why-ozembic-run-on-diabetes-drug-for-off-label-use-has-insurance-angle/69894674007/

1. “What happens when a drug goes viral?” Harvard Health, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-happens-when-a-drug-goes-viral-202302212892

2. “How does the drug in Ozempic help you lose weight? Doctor explains how it works” AOL, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.aol.com/news/does-drug-ozempic-help-lose-152204047.html

3. “What to Know About Ozempic, Wegovy and the Weight-Loss Market” CNET, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnet.com/health/medical/what-to-know-about-ozempic-wegovy-and-the-weight-loss-market

4. “Ozempic: Popular for all the wrong reasons” The Trinitonian, 23 Feb. 2023, https://trinitonian.com/2023/02/23/ozempic-popular-for-all-the-wrong-reasons/

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