Weight-loss medications, Ozempic and Wegovy, have recently sparked heated debates among medical professionals and internet commenters alike. As the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported a shortage of its primary ingredient, Semaglutide, it is important to know if these medications are safe, effective, and morally acceptable for weight loss.
First, are they safe?
According to the FDA, Ozempic and Wegovy appear to be safer than earlier medications promoted for weight loss, despite the two drugs being distinct in their individual characteristics. Like many other medications, Wegovy & Ozempic are long-term treatments with advantages and risks.
When put into action, how do they function?
Wegovy is comparable to Ozempic in that both include the active ingredient semaglutide, but Wegovy is approved by the FDA for weight loss and contains a higher concentration of the medicine. Although Ozempic was initially approved to treat type 2 diabetes, it is now being taken off-label as an aid to slim down. They are both manufactured by the same pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, and are both injectable medications that are used once weekly, much like an EpiPen
Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. GLP-1 is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that helps regulate glucose levels by increasing insulin secretion and reducing the amount of glucose produced and released by the liver, resulting in more consistent blood sugar levels. This modifies the body's reaction to hunger and fullness, making you feel less hungry and decreasing your appetite.
People with type 2 diabetes have trouble producing or responding to insulin, so managing blood sugar levels is a top priority. By doing so, Ozempic also helps reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other complications that are common in those with Diabetes. Trials have shown that semaglutide is highly effective at lowering blood sugar, the primary goal of treating type 2 diabetes.
Wegovy is effective within the scope of its approved usage for treating obesity in people with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or above and at least one health problem, such as high blood pressure. The FDA approved Wegovy after a study showed that those without Diabetes who took the drug shed 12.4% more weight than those who took a placebo.
Supply & Demand
The prevalence of high body mass index (BMI) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is high, with estimates suggesting that more than two-thirds of the population has a BMI of 25 or higher, which is considered overweight. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of obesity in the UAE was estimated to be around 34% in 2016. This high level of obesity and overweight has been attributed to several factors, including a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy dietary habits, and a lack of physical activity. It is worth noting that BMI is an inaccurate indicator of health. Yet, it is still used to define obesity, which is still widely considered a chronic disease.
Yet to be seen in the UAE, the rising demand for medications like Ozempic and Wegovy has led to unforeseen consequences, including drug scarcity and revived decades-old worries about weight loss drugs and weight stigma.
In the US, Tigress Osborn, chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, disagrees with the classification of obesity as an illness, as do many fat rights and body neutrality campaigners and some medical professionals. Previous waves of weight loss pills, including Fen-Phen (a nickname for an appetite suppression drug that was eventually pulled from the market in the late 1990s due to it causing heart damage in many people who took it), used some of the same medical framings that are now being used for Ozempic and Wegovy, Osborn said.
Ozempic and Wegovy both have gastrointestinal side effects that are common among patients. Pancreatitis and other major adverse effects have been documented; however, they are uncommon. Some persons who have lost a significant amount of weight have noticed a change in their appearance they call "Ozempic face," which results from a reduction in the subcutaneous fat of the face.
Semaglutide has a high price tag and is challenging to get a hold of if you aren't with deep pockets yet need it for your health. On average, Wegovy will set you back roughly $1,400 per month and is not covered by most medical insurance providers.
Semaglutide must be taken continuously because if a patient stops taking it, they may experience serious health problems, such as untreated Diabetes and an eventual regain of weight. This repeated fluctuation of losing and gaining weight is associated with numerous health hazards, such as stroke.
While their future is unclear, the past of "diet pills" is rife with toxic and potentially lethal medications. Some people, especially those involved in the "fat rights" and "body neutrality" movements, do not consider obesity to be a medical condition and advocate instead for body acceptance. Even though the value and safety of these medications are still up for debate, it is essential to proceed with caution and speak to your doctor about the best approaches to losing weight until more is known about these medications.