Ozempic — it’s all the rage right now. Open your social media, turn on the news or listen to the radio, and you will definitely hear the word Ozempic. It’s a ”game-changing” weight loss drug, a treatment for diabetes, and hard to find in the US. I’ve heard so much about this medication, but I have no idea what it really is or does. Is it safe? Can I take it to lose weight? Will the weight come back if I stop taking it? I feel like there is so much information out there both good and bad, but what should we really believe? To get all the information about everything Ozempic, I checked in with Dr. Anna Schweikert, a family medicine physician with The Christ Hospital Physicians – Primary Care.
What is Ozempic?
Dr. Schweirkert told me that Ozempic is a once-weekly injection used for the treatment of diabetes. Ozempic is only approved for the treatment of diabetes. The medicine in Ozempic, semaglutide, is also marketed as WeGovy, which is an anti-obesity medication (weight-loss drug). This makes sense because WeGovy also runs commercials on TV and seems to be somewhat similar to me.
Dr. Schweikert said, “Patients who take semaglutide have some great results in sugar control and weight reduction. The medication primarily works by mimicking a naturally occurring hormone that works in multiple areas of the body including the brain, liver, pancreas and stomach. As a result, your body can release more insulin and make less sugar, meaning your appetite is lower, and you are fuller longer after eating.”
What are the pros/cons of taking Ozempic?
My cousin has been taking Ozempic for a few months, and it seems to have helped her lose some weight, but she has had some side effects from taking the medication. Dr. Schweikert said Ozempic is a great drug for the treatment of diabetes, with the added benefit of weight loss.
The weekly injection makes dosing convenient. It is sometimes prescribed “off-label” just for weight loss, and it does work well for non-diabetic patients who need to lose weight. Because of so many label AND off-label prescriptions, this medicine is currently in short supply, which limits usage for patients who most need it.
Additionally, there are side effects that are important to take into consideration. The most common side effects are gastrointestinal-related (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain). However, there are more serious but rare side effects that are important to discuss with your doctor, such as thyroid cancers, pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, etc. The cost can also be very high for this medication and is dependent on your insurance.
All of the pros/cons aside, Ozempic can be a safe and effective treatment for the right patients. Because of the side effects already mentioned, it is important to have a discussion with your doctor to determine whether this is a good fit for you.
Long-term results of Ozempic
It’s important to remember that Ozempic has not been approved as a weight-loss drug, and, since it is new, there is no long-term data on this medication. But, so far, it seems that it can be continued long-term. That being said, if someone is using Ozempic and they stop taking it, the weight could come back. However, if you stick to the same diet, you can keep the weight off — which is more difficult without the appetite effects of the medication.
If you have questions about Ozempic, other diabetes or weight loss medications, or about managing your weight in general, the best place to start is by talking to your primary care provider. You can schedule with a provider with The Christ Hospital Physicians – Primary Care by clicking here or by calling 513-585-3000.