In the quest for effective weight loss solutions, pharmaceutical companies have developed drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, which have shown some stunning results in aiding weight loss. Ozempic and its sister drug Wegovy are currently administered as fairly costly once-weekly injections coming in at about $1600 a month out of pocket. Since there are many people who can’t stand needles and can’t afford the injections, the race is on to develop a less expensive pill form of the drug. Several drug manufacturers say they are now seeking FDA approval for exactly that. However, the potential benefits come with some serious potential risks.
What Are Ozempic and Wegovy?
Ozempic and Wegovy are brand names for the drug semaglutide, which belongs to a class of medications known as GLP-1 analogues. These drugs mimic a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which regulates blood sugar levels, slows stomach emptying, and reduces appetite.
The Weight Loss Marvel:
Originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, GLP-1 analogues, including Ozempic and Wegovy, have now been approved for weight loss purposes as well. These medications have become famous for their ability to induce significant weight loss, far beyond the modest results seen with traditional weight loss interventions.
The Pros and Cons of Ozempic and Wegovy:
While these weight loss pills have shown remarkable efficacy, they are not without their share of side effects.
- Effective Weight Loss: Combining Ozempic or Wegovy with a healthy diet and regular exercise can lead to an impressive 15% reduction in body weight over a year.
- Appetite Suppression: GLP-1 analogues work to suppress appetite, making it easier to control food intake.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: These medications help regulate blood sugar levels, which is especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
- Mild GI Discomfort: Common side effects include nausea, constipation, and diarrhea, which usually improve over time.
- Pancreas Inflammation: Although rare, inflammation of the pancreas has been reported in some users.
- Hair Loss: Weight loss caused by these medications might lead to temporary hair loss, which can also happen with other weight loss methods.
The Quest for a Pill
Drug manufacturers are currently working on an oral pill version of semaglutide, the main ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy. This pill, similar to the injectable versions, has shown promising results in clinical trials, leading to significant weight loss in participants.
Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer have been leading the charge, studying three potential game-changers that might rival the effectiveness of Ozempic for shedding those extra pounds.
Novo Nordisk’s Oral Semaglutide:
Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer behind the success of Ozempic, is at the forefront of this revolution with its oral semaglutide. Slated for approval in 2023, this pill contains a higher dose of the same ingredient found in Ozempic and Rybelsus, making it a powerful contender for weight loss. In a phase 3 clinical trial, participants who were overweight or obese without Type 2 diabetes experienced an average weight loss of 15% after 68 weeks, mirroring the results seen with injectable semaglutide.
Eli Lilly’s Orforglipron:
Following close behind, Eli Lilly has unveiled its own weight loss pill, orforglipron, part of the same GLP-1 receptor agonist class as Ozempic. This synthetic hormone-based pill aims to make individuals feel fuller during meals, aiding in weight loss efforts. Phase 2 clinical trial results have been promising, with participants losing between 9.4% to 14.7% of their body weight in just 36 weeks.
Pfizer is also in the race to revolutionize weight loss with its oral medication, danuglipron, another GLP-1 antagonist. In a phase 2 clinical trial involving individuals with Type 2 diabetes, this twice-daily pill showed significant reductions in body weight compared to a placebo after just 16 weeks. Unlike some weight loss pills, danuglipron does not require fasting before consumption.
Some users have expressed concerns over suicidal thoughts and self-harm associated with GLP-1 analogues. While these reports are being investigated by regulatory agencies, there is no conclusive evidence linking these medications directly to such side effects.
Some doctors are now looking into a potential link between drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, and the development of severe gastroparesis, also known as stomach paralysis. These medications can slow down digestion if used for prolonged periods. The FDA says it doesn’t yet know if the medications were the cause or if there are other issues causing the stomach paralysis.
Weight loss achieved with Ozempic and Wegovy is typically sustained only as long as the medications are taken. Once discontinued, weight may start to creep back up. Once you’re on it, you’re on it. While not as expensive as the injectables, they may still cost upwards of $1000 a month and as of yet are not covered by insurance.
So what do you think – when the pills become available will you line up for a prescription?
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Cara Schulz, a cancer survivor and green tea lover, has opened The Flower Pot, a holistic wellness shop in Burnsville that offers products ranging from medicinal teas and wellness tonics and herbal tinctures.