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Ozempic can lend a hand other people to temporarily drop a few pounds however may additionally have severe unwanted effects

Ute Grabowsky/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

Ozempic and Wegovy are logo names for the drug semaglutide. Many nations have licensed Wegovy for weight reduction in people who find themselves overweight or obese and Ozempic for other people with kind 2 diabetes.

How do those medication paintings?

Medication equivalent to semaglutide mimic the movements of a hormone referred to as glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1. Those so-called GLP-1 analogues have a number of results, together with slowing abdomen emptying, appearing at the mind to scale back urge for food and boosting the discharge of insulin, which is helping to keep an eye on blood sugar ranges.

For greater than a decade, GLP-1 analogues were used to lend a hand other people with kind 2 diabetes keep an eye on their blood sugar and a few customers skilled modest weight reduction. “Those medication increase a device that already exists throughout the human frame, 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 other people with out kind 2 diabetes. They have got additionally turn into to be had in formulations which are stronger and more uncomplicated to make use of.

First of all GLP-1 analogues had been licensed to be used at a decrease dose and had to be given through twice-daily injections. In the newest formulations they’re once-weekly injections, with Wegovy’s complete dose being 2.4 milligrams for weight reduction and Ozempic getting used at a most dose of two milligrams for kind 2 diabetes.

How broadly to be had are they?

In 2021, Wegovy was once licensed for weight reduction in different international locations, together with the United States and Canada. Reward from some famous person customers introduced it popular exposure.

Production issues supposed its producer, Novo Nordisk, had bother assembly world call for, so some docs began prescribing Ozempic, which were licensed for other people with kind 2 diabetes in positive international locations a number of years previous. This resulted in shortages for individuals who required it for diabetes keep an eye on.

In the United Kingdom, Wegovy was once licensed in 2021, however handiest were given the nod from England’s scientific pointers frame the Nationwide Institute for Well being and Care Excellence in March 2023, when it stated the drug will have to be given through weight reduction clinics throughout the nation’s nationwide well being carrier. Wegovy is predicted to turn into to be had in the United Kingdom this yr, whilst Ozempic has been to be had for kind 2 diabetes since 2019.

In June 2023, the United Kingdom executive introduced the advent of a two-year pilot that provides other people with weight problems get right of entry to to new medication, equivalent to Wegovy, out of doors of a clinic environment.

How efficient are they?

Very. This can be a cliche however weight problems docs are speaking a few paradigm shift within the box of weight problems control. Prior to now, a lack of about 5 in keeping with cent of frame weight can be thought to be a just right outcome for any weight reduction intervention out of doors of abdomen surgical procedure and is thought of as a benchmark in weight problems drug trials.

Wegovy ends up in a few 15 in keeping with cent relief in frame weight over a yr, when mixed with workout and consuming healthily.

Actually, some other people appear to really feel that the GLP-1 analogues have brought about them to turn into too gaunt, as mirrored in the upward push of the hunt phrases “Ozempic face” and “Ozempic butt”. “Ozempic doesn’t do anything else particular to the outside,” says Alexander Miras at Ulster College, UK. It’s the weight reduction that reasons those obvious unwanted effects, with equivalent results regularly additionally happening after weight reduction surgical procedure, he says.

Do the medicine have any unwanted effects?

Unintended effects will also be gentle, equivalent to nausea, constipation and diarrhoea, which have a tendency to happen as other people get used to the drug. Extra being worried unwanted effects come with irritation of the pancreas, even supposing that is somewhat uncommon.

How about hair loss?

Hair loss has been reported through some semaglutide customers. This could also be infrequently observed after important weight reduction from different reasons, equivalent to abdomen surgical procedure, says Miras.

Hair loss following weight reduction surgical procedure is regarded as because of physiological tension at the frame inflicting an higher collection of hair follicles to go into their “resting” section, which results in the hairs falling out a couple of months later. It stops when the burden loss stabilises, alternatively, the hair doesn’t all the time develop again, says Miras.

Do those medication motive suicidal ideas?

GLP-1 analogues – equivalent to Ozempic and Wegovy – are being investigated through the Ecu Medications Company (EMA) after contemporary reviews that they’ll motive ideas of suicide or self-harm. This was once after Iceland’s well being regulator gained 3 such reviews referring to semaglutide and every other drug referred to as liraglutide, which is an previous GLP-1 analogue.

The EMA says it’s analysing about 150 reviews of conceivable circumstances of self-injury and suicidal ideas. This doesn’t imply the medications brought about those results, alternatively, handiest that individuals reported those studies after beginning to take them. “Extra paintings is had to resolve if a causal hyperlink exists,” says Michael Schwartz on the College of Washington in Seattle.

A spokesperson at Novo Nordisk, the producer of liraglutide and the semaglutide medication Ozempic and Wegovy, instructed New Scientist: “GLP-1 receptor agonists were used to regard kind 2 diabetes for greater than 15 years and for remedy of weight problems for 8 years. The protection information gathered from huge scientific trial programmes and submit advertising surveillance have no longer demonstrated a causal affiliation between semaglutide or liraglutide and suicidal and self-harming ideas.”

Want a listening ear? UK Samaritans: 116123; US 988 Suicide & Disaster Lifeline: 988; hotlines in different international locations.

Do those medication lend a hand with addictions?

In all probability. There were many anecdotal reviews of other people taking those medications for diabetes or weight keep an eye on who lose their urge to drink alcohol or see waning of different conduct which may be described as “behavioural addictions”, equivalent to compulsive buying groceries.

That is supported through analysis in animals that discovered the GLP-1 analogues decrease intake of alcohol and addictive medication. A small trial in other people has hinted at a equivalent impact from a GLP-1 analogue referred to as exenatide, which diminished heavy ingesting, however handiest in individuals who had been overweight.

The rationale may well be attached with the way in which the medicine act at the mind to scale back meals cravings, however the actual mechanism is unclear. We’re handiest initially of figuring out how those therapies may just toughen other people with alcohol and drug additions, says Daniel Drucker at Sinai Well being in Toronto, Canada. “The scientific trial information isn’t but in to verify the anecdotes.”

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

The longest trial of Wegovy lasted two years and located that individuals’s weight widely plateaued in the second one yr.

In maximum international locations, Wegovy has been licensed for 2 years’ use, but when other people prevent taking the drug, they normally regain the misplaced weight – two-thirds of it after three hundred and sixty five days, consistent with one trial.

“The burden loss is handiest sustained for so long as the drug is taken as a result of once you prevent the drug, all of the ones physiological processes which are looking to get your frame weight again up kick in once more,” says Cork.

This implies that once two years of use, there will probably be call for from customers for docs to proceed prescribing the drug “off label”. “I believe there’ll be a large push to take a look at to switch the ones pointers,” says Cork.

Ozempic will also be prescribed long-term for kind 2 diabetes since the situation is typically life-long.

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