Weight loss drugs fall in the domain of pharmaceuticals which never gets out of focus owing to the increasing obesity rates in several parts of the world, including the US. Every few years, new drug substances, potential food items, or exercise practices are constantly being introduced to the people who are, in return, ready to jump in adopting them thus becoming the key promoters of such trends. One of the latest in this long chain of weight loss components is the Type 2 diabetic drug called Ozempic which has been making headlines for quite some time now. Let us analyze what the Ozempic actually is, what is its efficacy in reducing weight as well as how safe is this new agent in its applications.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is an FDA-approved brand marketed by Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company, which carries semaglutide as its generic ingredient. It is manufactured as a pre-filled pen-shaped injectable and is intended to be used in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Recently, this drug has been all over the news due to its potential to reduce body weight by up to 15% up to some claims.
Ozempic injectable pen
Although Ozempic does not have FDA clearance for its use as a weight loss agent, it is being recommended as an off-label medication due to its active pharmaceutical moiety semaglutide which is a major component of the brand Wegovy, an FDA-approved weight loss agent.
How does the Ozempic work?
Ozempic, or more specifically semaglutide, is a peptide containing a similar structure to glucagon, an endogenous peptide of the human body. It works by increasing a food-related parameter called ‘gastric emptying time’ which is defined as the time taken by the food to travel through the tubular pathway between two openings of the alimentary canal, the mouth, and the anus. Simply, it can be taken as the time for which the food is retained in the stomach. By elevating this gastric emptying time, semaglutide increases the residence time of the food in the gut. This, subsequently, makes the subject feel fuller for a longer period of time thus reducing the desire to eat. This way, a significant decrease occurs in the frequency of meals a person consumes as well as the time gap between them is also greater than before.
Mechanism of action of Ozempic (Semaglutide)
With semaglutide, the pronounced blood sugar changes can be avoided and this is the cause of, in some cases, a decreased level of blood glucose in the subjects. Moreover, the subjects have reported the nauseatic feeling they experience upon taking the drug which further renders the idea of food consumption unattractive to them.
Summary of functions of Semaglutide
A suitable dose of Ozempic for weight loss
A weekly injection of Ozempic up to a strength not exceeding 2.4 mg is often recommended for its application as a weight loss agent. The comprehensive instructions on the dosing regarding Ozempic are given in the following table:
Dosing instructions for Ozempic as a weight loss agent
The studies have claimed that most of the individuals who are taking ozempic for the purpose of losing weight will lose up to 10% of their body mass after the first month of drug consumption. However, the extent of weight loss is also highly dependent on a person’s genetics as well as other lifestyle parameters.
Ozempic vs Wegovy
Although both the brands i.e. Ozempic as well as Wevogy are based on the same drug semaglutide, their efficacy in the reduction of body weight differs. Over a period of 68 weeks, a 2.4 mg dose of Wegovy has been reported to help lose 15.8% of body weight. As compared to this, a 6% weight reduction has been indicated with the use of Ozempic over a period of one year. This manifests that the effectiveness of Wegovy indeed exceeds Ozempic but it does not rule out the efficacy of the latter altogether.
Comparison of Ozempic with Wegovy
Side effects of Ozempic
Ozempic, like other weight loss drugs, is not free from side effects. The users may experience some of the following commonly occurring side reactions of the drug:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Frequent burping
- Acid reflux i.e. reflux of HCl from the stomach into the esophagus causing the burning sensation
- Constant feeling of nausea
- Stomach aches
- Pain in the abdomen
- Gas and flatulence
- Headaches possibly due to the lower blood sugar level (BGL)
In addition, some users may experience severe side effects which can include:
- Hypersensitivity to the active ingredient i.e. semaglutide
- Pancreatic inflammation
- Swelling of the gallbladder as well as the development of the gallstones
- Uremia i.e. end-stage renal failure
Moreover, with the consecutive use of Ozempic, an increased risk of thyroid carcinoma has also been reported.
Ozempic, although, is the new addition to the family of weight loss medications but its status is still lingering in the darkness as the drug has not yet bagged an FDA-approval. Previously a well-known anti-diabetic agent, ozempic has recently crept into a different category owing to its active pharmaceutical moiety-Semaglutide which is a frequently prescribed well-loss drug sold under the brand name of Wegovy. According to the studies, ozempic, indeed, has the potential to help lose weight despite being not initially manufactured for this purpose. Hopes are high that an FDA approval may soon come to confirm this claim. Until then, some of the other frequently prescribed alternative brands for weight loss such as Rybelsus, Trulicity, and Metformin can be used after taking a physician’s advice to achieve the purpose.