What you need to know about Ozempic and other drugs being used for weight loss

Ozempic blog

The Ozempic craze is booming in the United States. Celebrities and the general public alike are seeking a specific side effect of the medication — weight loss. People using Ozempic for diabetes and weight loss have also faced shortages of the medication in recent years.

Given its popularity, here’s a primer on what you need to know about Ozempic and similar medications. 

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is the brand name for the drug semaglutide, which is an FDA-approved medicine that can help lower blood glucose in adults with type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a group of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), receptor agonists that mimic the GLP-1 hormone that is released in the gastrointestinal tract in response to eating and can prompt the body to produce more insulin and reduce appetite. 

It is not recommended to take Ozempic solely for weight-loss purposes. In 2021, semaglutide was FDA-approved under an additional brand name, Wegovy, which is designated for weight loss. Increasingly, people without type 2 diabetes are seeking out Ozempic or Wegovy for weight-loss purposes. The drug’s impact on weight loss has been widely publicized by traditional media and social media influencers.

What is the difference between Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus?

All three drugs contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide. Ozempic and Rybelsus are both approved by the FDA for the treatment of type 2 diabetes to improve blood glucose. Ozempic also has been approved to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attacks, for adults with type 2 diabetes who have cardiovascular disease. 

Rybelsus is an oral pill taken once daily, and Ozempic is an injectable taken once weekly. Neither are specifically approved for weight-loss purposes. Wegovy is an injectable weight-loss medication for adults and adolescents age 12 and up with obesity. 

Is Ozempic the same as insulin?

No, Ozempic is not the same as insulin. It is used to help your pancreas produce more insulin. 

Ozempic is currently only FDA-approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Although Ozempic cannot replace insulin, early research published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that low doses of semaglutide may reduce insulin reliance in people with type 1 diabetes. 

More research will be needed to confirm any possible benefits for individuals with type 1 diabetes.

Who should consider taking Wegovy for weight loss?

Wegovy is intended for individuals with obesity. This includes those with a body mass index of 30 or higher, or a BMI of 27 or higher in individuals with health problems related to obesity, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. 

One clinical trial showed that semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, led to an almost 15% reduction in participants’ body weight over a 68-week period. Consult your physician if you think Wegovy or other semaglutide medications may be right for you.

What are the risks of taking Ozempic or Wegovy? 

Gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea and constipation, are the most common side effects associated with semaglutide medications. People may also experience dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea and vomiting. 

There are serious rare health risks associated with taking semaglutide medications, including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), inflammation of the pancreas, gallbladder problems, and it may worsen conditions such as gastroparesis, retinopathy, medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia. 

What happens when you stop taking Ozempic or Wegovy for weight management?

Obesity is a chronic disease. Studies have shown that one year after cessation of once-weekly semaglutide injections, participants regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost. This evidence suggests that ongoing treatment is necessary for the long-term weight loss and heart health benefits associated with semaglutide-based medications.

For more information, visit the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center homepage by clicking here.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

Topics in this Story

    News and Events