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Frequently Asked Questions About Ozempic

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“Oh Ohhh, oh, Ozempic,” croon the voices in an often-broadcast commercial for the Type 2 diabetes medication, Ozempic made by Novo Nordisk. The song is set to the tune of “Magic” from the band Pilot from the 1970s. It’s fitting: With its reported capacity to induce rapid weight loss as a side result of managing blood sugar The drug has been hailed as a”miracle cure” by people who are aware. “Patients believe it’s a miracle treatment,” says New York dermatologic surgeon Paul Jarrod Frank, MD as well as other doctors, is frequently asked about it in a alarming rate. “Other then Viagra and Botox I’ve not seen any other medicine that’s so rapidly become part of the modern world’s cultural language.”

That’s no exaggeration. The phrase “post-Ozempic bodies” is trending and increasingly batted around in social media as well as IRL as speculation swirls after any highly publicized and visible weight loss. The month before, Elon Musk acknowledged Wegovy the same drug, as one of the reasons for his more svelte appearance (fasting was another); Andy Cohen tweeted about #Ozempic during September, a hashtag that has clocked over 274 million views via TikTok; and it’s been widely speculated that Kim Kardashian relied on the drug for dramatic weight loss in pursuit of fitting into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic gown at last year’s Met Gala. No matter whether celebrities confess to taking it (or they don’t), Google searches for Ozempic are on the rise, signaling an insatiable desire to find out more about its slimming effects.

Thinness is currently dominating the fashion scene again (some might argue that it never really went away) It’s an opportunity to see how easily weight is determined by the fashion cycle. However, the fact that a lot of people are willing to expose themselves to regular injections as well as potentially unpleasant adverse effects as a result of fitting into a narrow size body is alarming to put it mildly. “I am concerned about body distortion, dysmorphia, and the model we’re setting for girls who are so vulnerable to the unrealistically filtered versions of beauty,” says LA-based cosmetic dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD. Nancy Rahnama, MD, an internist with a board-certified certification and specialist in obesity-related medicine in the private sector with a private practice in Beverly Hills, agrees: celebrities who use, or more likely making use of these weight-loss medications–not because of health issues, but to achieve their ideal figure–is deeply problematic in its amplification of the obesity culture, says Dr. Rahnama. In a world where slimming waistlines are often confused as health-related, so what, exactly, is this now perpetually name-checked class of drugs? And who should, and perhaps more importantly, shouldn’t–be using these drugs?

Is Ozempic a sport?

A semaglutide, which is what is the primary ingredient of Ozempic, belongs to a class of medications called GLP-1 antagonists. These compounds replicate a hormone we all make within our intestines. It is released once we begin eating. “Semaglutide enhances the release of insulin in response to glucose intake , and causes a slight delay in gastric emptying,” says Ariana Chao, MD, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and medical director of the school’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders. “It also acts in areas of the brain responsible for the regulation of appetite and food intake. The medication makes your body more sensitive to the insulin you produce on your own according to Holly Lofton, MD, an associate professor of clinical medicine in the department of medicine and surgery as well as coordinator of NYU Langone Health’s Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Health. “By doing this,” explains Dr. Lofton, “it helps your body’s fat cells shrink in time.” Novo Nordisk produces both the semaglutide Ozempic and Wegovy. Both, although authorized for two different functions they are actually similar. “Semaglutide 1 mg (Ozempic) is a once-weekly injection FDA approved for treating diabetes since 2017. A higher dose of 2 mg was approved in early 2022,” says W. Scott Butsch, MD, MSc director of obesity medicine in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at Cleveland Clinic. “Wegovy is higher dose of weekly semaglutide (2.4 mg) that was approved for treatment of obesity in July 2021.”

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Are Ozempic approved by the FDA to help you lose weight?

It’s not exactly. Wegovy is approved for weight loss in adults 18 and over who have an body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, or a BMI of 27 with a comorbidity for example, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. (A new study has demonstrated its effectiveness and safety in adolescents as well.) “Wegovy is the start of a new generation of anti-obesity drugs that were highly efficient,” says Dr. Butsch. “Its 12.4% body weight loss throughout its 68-week controlled randomized trial of over 1,900 participants with an average BMI of 37 was superior to all other existing treatment options for obesity. In addition, more than half of the study group (55%) lost at least 15% weight loss, and 35 percent lost over 20 percent.” But because Ozempic has historically been more easy to get than Wegovy, many people are using this specific semaglutide to treat the weight gain “leading to off-label usage,” claims the doctor. Rahnama. Its ability to be administered at home via injection–once a week through the thigh, abdomen, or upper arm–has added to the popularity of it, particularly during the pandemic.

How, exactly, does Ozempic operate?

In simplest terms, it curbs the appetite and tricked the body to feel full. “When naturally produced by the body, the hormone that Ozempic mimics] can only keep us full for a couple of hours, whereas when it is in the form of medication, fullness is felt for all day,” says Dr. Rahnama. Every time you take it, you get the sensation of fullness over a period of 6 or 7 days, and it will compound over time. “I have patients who tell me they can consume one-third of what they normally ate and be satiated, go longer without eating, and they don’t eat anymore,” says Dr. Lofton. Studies on Wegovy have shown it to be a safe method to manage weight even for adolescents according to a clinical study which was reported within The New England Journal of Medicine in the last few weeks. If semaglutides are utilized correctly according to Dr. Rahnama, appetite is not completely suppressed, but is better managed. If they are not used appropriately they can make it so that appetite is completely suppressed. This can result in or worsening eating disorders.

Are there any side effects, or risky side effects associated with Ozempic?

Yes. The most commonly reported adverse effects of Ozempic are, as outlined in the fine print of the advertisements that of gastrointestinal. Constipation, nausea and vomiting as well as loose stools are often reported, and for some, lead to the termination of the medication. “Rare but serious side consequences that have been documented in the context of a semaglutide comprise an inflammation in the pancreas, diabetes kidney disease, retinopathy gallbladder problems, and allergic reactions,” according to Dr. Chao. There are some instances where Ozempic is not recommended: It’s not recommended for pregnant women or nursing, or who has a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple tumors of the endocrine system.

How long are you meant to stay on Ozempic?

Since Ozempic is a drug which is prescribed to treat chronic diseases, it’s not something intended to be taken off. “Ozempic is used to treat patients with diabetes, and is intended to be used for a long time,” says Dr. Rahnama. “If the medication ceases and patients are reverted to their old eating habits because of an increase in appetite, they will regain any weight loss and return to their normal blood sugar levels.” The medications that treat obesity are not different from those for treating high blood cholesterol or high pressure as per Dr. Butsch: Long-term control of the disease is dependent on the treatment. “A short-term approach is a result of the misconception of obesity as a disease, and therefore medications are just used for short-term effects,” Dr. Butsch clarifies. Obesity, says Dr. Butsch, is often seen as a lifestyle decision with medications serving as so-called management tools. “This is a false notion, though. We’re well aware of controlling energy and body weight, as well as the genetic causes of obesity to recognize that it’s not that simple,” continues Dr. Butsch. “While I have some concerns about the possibility that this drug (as like Wegovy as well as Mounjaro) will be utilized in people who do not have any indications, I believe the acceptance of these medications and other similar drugs over the coming years will increase awareness of the difficulty of weight management and obesity that will reduce the previously-held beliefs that have been the basis for this diet culture.”

What happens when you go off Ozempic?

Numerous studies have been conducted on Ozempic’s effectiveness, but because it is relatively new there’s no research as of yet on the long-term effect of taking it. When you stop taking it, you’ll likely return to your baseline weight and blood sugar levels. This is why nutritionists, like Charles Passler, DC, underscore the simultaneous importance of lifestyle choices and nutrition while on the drug. Dr. Passler, who approaches weight loss holistically, assists his Ozempic patients change the way they eat so they can take advantage of the weight loss that the injection can bring while maintaining their muscle. He also stresses breathwork biofeedback, stress reduction and rest, all of which he believes are helpful in maintaining and strengthening a healthy diet. The close supervision of all patients who are taking Ozempic is also crucial according to the doctor. Lofton, which is the reason that using a friend’s prescription or picking it up from Medi-spas is worrying. The use of inexperienced prescribers is a big concern, she says. “It must be administered under medical supervision as there is a risk of poor side effects that could send you to the hospital” adds Dr. Lofton noting that reports appearing in the news about people who have experienced intense vomiting could be evidence of its blatant usage. “It is not necessary to make you feel like that,” adds Dr. Lofton, explaining that anyone in this circumstance should have stopped taking it or had their dosage dramatically reduced, or had an examination sonogram. “Doctors who know the mechanism of action and are able to monitor patients on a regular basis and properly should be the only doctors who prescribe this medication,” says Dr. Rahmana.

Who should use Ozempic (and who should not)?

Although the FDA guidelines about Ozempic’s use for Type 2 diabetes are there, many doctors prescribe Ozempic off-label, something that, to be clear, is an extremely common practice in medicine. It’s still an issue for the Dr. Chao: “I do have concerns with prescribing semaglutide off-label since the drug hasn’t been thoroughly studied in people without Type 2 diabetes or in those who are not obese.” There are a lot of medical professionals are both concerned about the possibility that it’s prescribing too much or in the wrong way. “If one wants to lose just a few pounds or lose a few pounds, then come on, this isn’t the right thing to do for those who are just trying to lose weight,” says Dr. Passler. Using BMI as a primary determinant for who qualifies poses its own issues as well. “BMI is not the perfect measure but it doesn’t directly relate to morbidity or death,” says Dr. Lofton who frequently is relying on other health indicators, including waist circumference, to determine if someone is overweight and at risk of heart disease.

Can Ozempic’s prescription overprescribing cause a shortage of those who really need it?

Yes. Within the first six months of Wegovy being launched as treatment for obesity in the month of July 2021 there was a shortage of supply because of demand and manufacturing, according to Dr. Butsch, which led many to choose Ozempic in its place. “Many new doctors were taking lower doses of semaglutide in order to treat obesity and this inevitably resulted in the occurrence of supply shortages for patients who were taking Ozempic to treat diabetes despite the fact that the drug was approved for a 2 mg dose early in 2022,” Dr. Butsch continues. “There is a growing concern for those patients who have been using this drug for a number of years for blood sugar control but are not able to obtain the medication due to its ineffective use,” adds Dr. Rahmana. At this moment, there’s an insufficient supply of Ozempic and Wegovy for diabetes patients who rely on them to keep their blood-sugar levels in check, and for those who are hoping for an off-label prescription.