What is Ozempic? How does the drug help take off pounds and why is there a shortage?
Demand for Ozempic and Wegovy has skyrocketed and more patients are having access to it, but why is there a shortage of the drug? Let’s take a look
There have been many conversations around drugs that cause weight loss like Ozempic and Wegovy that have escalated in popularity. And a recent shortage of these drugs has fueled further speculation about who is using them.
Semaglutide, sold under the brand names Wegovy and Ozempic, is an antidiabetic medication intended to treat of Type 2 diabetes and help lower blood sugar.
This type of drug, along with tirzepatide, sold as Mounjaro, and liraglutide, known as Saxenda, have also proved to be extremely effective in weight loss.
To be more specific, Ozempic and Mounjaro are FDA approved to treat type 2 diabetes, while Saxenda and Wegovy are FDA-approved for weight loss.
After news surfaced on TikTok about the perceived benefits of the drugs, people who don’t have diabetes started becoming interested in using the medication for weight loss.
Here’s what sports Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Richard Lehman told Fox news: “You definitely decrease your appetite, and you feel full pretty much all the time, and you don’t really crave sugar because you don’t get the sugar high or sugar low.”
What is Ozempic and what does it work for?
Semaglutide drugs work by imitating a gut hormone known as glucagon-like peptide hormone, or GLP. According to Dr. Amanda Velazquez, who works for Weight Management and Metabolic Health in Los Angeles, this drug “makes that gut hormone work better to enhance communication between the gut and the brain and make us feel fuller and also help with reducing appetite,” said. “Overall it’s telling the body it’s okay to be at a lower set point.”
Velazquez says she would prescribe these highly-effective drugs to patients with a BMI between 27 and 30 – classified as overweight – or patients who have a weight-related medical condition, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea.
Patients with a BMI of 30 or greater- identified as obese – would also qualify for a weight loss drug.
But these drugs can have side effects like nausea and constipation, which some speculate is one of the factors contributing to weight loss.
Velazquez, however, says “that’s not the mission of the drug.”
“The goal is not to make someone not eat,” she said. “The goal is to help someone be able to navigate and manage what they’re eating to have healthier choices and feel fuller with those options.”
Velazquez also added that it is not yet known how the drugs would affect people who are not considered overweight or obese, as the drugs were not tested in those patients.
Why is there a shortage of these drugs?
Besides the high demand for these drugs, some doctors prescribe them off-label to patients who don’t even qualify but can afford them without insurance.
This results in many wealthy patients having access to these drugs creating a shortage for the ones who actually need them.
When a shortage of Wegovy (approved for just weight loss) began, providers from the same drug company started prescribing Ozempic, which is approved for diabetes and helps people lose weight.