Ozempic, Hero or Villain? In this article, I will unpack the data to determine whether Ozempic and its ilk are heroes or villains.
A hero by definition is a person or thing who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. A villain, on the other hand, doesn’t exemplify these qualities and is, in fact, the antithesis of the hero, and opposes the hero.
As I present the Ozempic hero and villain facts, you dear reader will be the final arbiter and you can decide whether Ozempic is a Hero or Villain.
Ozempic Interesting Weight Loss Side Effect
Ozempic and similar drugs containing the active ingredient, Semaglutide, are designed to treat type 2 diabetes. It was during the treatment of type 2 diabetes that an interesting side effect was noted, these drugs use lead to a modest weight loss.
Although Ozempic was formally approved by the FDA in 2017 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, once the weight loss side effect was discovered its popularity exploded and practically overnight became a blockbuster drug, the new sensation.
Ozempic was predominantly prescribed off-label by physicians for the treatment of obesity and weight loss, not so much for diabetes treatment as there are many other non-semaglutide alternatives.
This blockbuster effect had the manufacturer, Novo Nordisk a Danish company scrambling to keep up with demand. The Ozempic weight loss benefits and subsequent shortages were magnified by social media and led to almost hysterical demand for the medication, primarily for weight loss.
Once the Hollywood crowd and social media influencers jumped on the weight loss bandwagon all hell broke loose, with demand rising exponentially. This extraordinary demand led to nationwide shortages and diabetic patients were unable to fill their prescriptions for the semaglutide medications. Wealthy folks who would bypass insurance approval by paying cash could buy the drug from doctors directly or through online sources.
The success and popularity of Ozempic for off-label use for weight loss led the company to petition the FDA to approve Wegovy which had a much higher dose of semaglutide for weight loss specifically. The availability of Ozempic and Wegovy has Novo Nordisk sitting at the top of the pharmaceutical cash revenue pile, with billions of lucrative dollars pouring in and being siphoned off from the dollars being spent on the treatment of obesity.
Ozempic the Hero
Here we will examine the Ozempic as a hero in the treatment of obesity. There is no question that Ozempic use causes weight loss and the weight loss is sustainable as long as the medication is being injected on a weekly basis. Ozempic is easy to administer with a once-a-week jab, a relatively painless process, similar to Wegovy.
According to medical doctors who treat obese patients, the semiglutide drugs including Ozempic have been hailed as a “Wonder Drug” or a “Miracle Drug” by shedding weight loss pounds and by improving diabetic control.
Ozempic and its competitors copy the action of an important gut hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1, GLP-1. Ozempic acts like the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1, which acts on the pancreas beta cells that produce insulin and helps the pancreas make and release insulin. So when glucose levels rise after meals, the body needs more insulin to process sugar from the meals, and GLP-1 or in this case Ozempic helps the pancreas release insulin.
The number of people in the U.S. using GLP-1 agonists for either diabetes or obesity reached 40 million in 2022.
How does Ozempic work for weight loss?
Ozempic acts on the brain and the gut. Semaglutides Ozempic and Wegovy activate signals in the appetite center of the brain to reduce hunger and increase stomach fullness and this one-two-punch helps the patient feel fuller with smaller meals or no meals and reduces the need for snacks.
Ozempic works in the gut by causing a delay in gastric emptying, the medication makes food stay in the stomach for longer and slows down the digestive process.
Patients are ecstatic and rave about the fact that not only do they not feel hungry but the desire or more aptly put the cravings for fatty, salty, sugary foods and even alcohol are massively reduced.
Patients claim they have no desire for junk fast foods, they have no meaningful appetite, or the urge to eat, in fact, some patients claim that they have to remind themselves to eat otherwise they wouldn’t.
Basically, the Ozempic weight loss is a result of drug-induced starvation.
Remarkable Ozempic Weight Loss
The weight loss in some cases can be astounding, I heard from a client who over a three-month period on Ozempic lost some 80 lbs and was now down to 95 lbs…a bit extreme in her case.
A well-known celebrity, Sharon Osbourne indicated in a recent interview noted that she lost 42 lbs while on Ozempic and she felt nauseous while on the medication.
According to a recent study, scientists retrospectively analyzed the data of more than 23,000 diabetic patients who used semaglutide. Six months after starting treatment, patients’ HbA1c levels, a blood test that measures a person’s average glucose level over the previous 8-12 weeks improved. Body weight dropped by an average of 10 pounds.
This study was funded by Ozempic manufacturer Novo Nordisk and was presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Hamburg, Germany.
Ozempic the Villain
Hearing about all the benefits of Ozempic listed above, one may wonder if the drug is too good to be true. There has to be a catch, right, significant weight loss and better diabetic control have to have a price, a cost that must be paid.
And skeptics would be right, Ozempic and other semaglutide-containing medications have a significant side effect profile.
According to Novo Nordisk, the most common side effects include, Nausea, Diarrhea, Stomach pain, Vomiting, and Constipation.
Ozempic Serious Digestive Problems
According to CNN, a new study found that people taking popular injected medications for weight loss, including Wegovy, Ozempic, Saxenda, and Victoza, may be at higher risk for serious digestive problems such as stomach paralysis, pancreatitis, and bowel obstructions, compared with those taking other types of weight loss medications.
When compared to another weight loss drug, bupropion-naltrexone, those who took a GLP-1 agonist were 3.67 times more likely to develop stomach paralysis, had a 9.09 times higher risk of pancreatitis and were 4.22 times more likely to have bowel obstruction. The side effects were all statistically significant.
The study found risks of these events happening to individual patients appear to be rare — about 1% of people taking Ozempic were diagnosed with stomach paralysis.
The University of British Columbia study was the first large-scale epidemiological study to examine these adverse effects in non-diabetic patients using the drugs specifically for weight loss.
New FDA Warning for Ozempic
A warning about ileus, or blocked intestines, was also just added to Ozempic’s warning label. In a September 22 update to the drug’s labeling, the FDA added ileus as a reported adverse effect of the medication. Ileus occurs when the intestines lose the ability to contract, blocking the movement of food and waste out of the body.
There have been reports of Ozempic and similar drug use and suicidal ideation which is currently being investigated.
There is currently no warning for gastroparesis or stomach paralysis.
Ozempic Drug-Induced Starvation
Because Ozempic and its GLP-1 brethren affect the appetite center in the brain, patients are literally starving themselves, these drugs don’t increase metabolism to account for the weight loss.
Once these drugs are stopped by the patients who use them for weight loss, the weight comes back and in some cases, patients gain more weight than previously. These rebound phenomena are well documented.
This is because the underlying issues with food, the relationship to eating, and particularly emotional eating have not changed. Old habits die hard indeed.
Summing it all up
As can be seen from the above, Ozempic and similar GLP-1 drugs have significant weight loss benefits but also serious side effect profile which is not well publicized or warned about. You can be the judge.
Injured or have questions about Ozempic, or Wegovy?
Did you or a loved one experience gastrointestinal or gastroparesis injuries after taking Ozempic, or Wegovy? Dr. Shezad Malik law firm based in Dallas, Texas is now reviewing injuries after taking Ozempic, Wegovy, or other GLP-1 agonists cases nationwide. Please call 214-390-3189 or email us for further information.
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