Ozempic: the dangers of TikTok’s favourite drug

Ozempic: the dangers of TikTok’s favourite drug

Billionaire Elon Musk had credited him for his drastic weight reduction. Websites specializing in movie star information declare that lots of their idols use it to remain in form. Tik Tok is stuffed with influencers posting their earlier than and after pictures of reducing weight utilizing it.

What’s that ? A drugs referred to as semaglutide and offered below totally different model names, together with Ozempic and Wegovy.

The frenzy over these medication has led to a scarcity for each manufacturers, in accordance with the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration, a scarcity that’s anticipated to final a number of months and which worries diabetic sufferers whose therapy depends on Ozempic. to regulate their blood sugar. As specialists level out, it’s important to know that there is no such thing as a miracle drug and that off-label use of those substances presents dangers.

This is what it is advisable find out about semaglutide, the way it works, and the related dangers.


Semaglutide helps decrease blood sugar ranges by mimicking a hormone naturally secreted when ingesting meals, says Ariana Chao, medical director of the Heart for Weight and Consuming Problems on the College of Pennsylvania. This drugs, given by injection, helps delay the state of satiety, regulate urge for food and cut back starvation and cravings.

There’s a excessive demand for this drug. In 2019, greater than 11% of the inhabitants had diabetes, whereas 4 in ten adults have been thought of overweight in 2020.

In 2017, the Meals and Drug Administration cleared Ozempic to be used in sufferers with kind 2 diabetes. These sufferers typically have low ranges of insulin, the hormone that helps break down meals into usable gas. by our physique,” sums up Chao. Ozempic tells the pancreas to create extra insulin, which helps management blood sugar but additionally lowers glucagon, a hormone that raises sugar ranges. This results in weight reduction, however specialists level out that Ozempic has not been authorised for this use.

Wegovy was licensed final yr in the US for overweight and obese sufferers, it’s the first drug to be licensed for power weight administration since 2014. The distinction between the 2 medication is that Wegovy is run at the next dose of semaglutide in comparison with Ozempic; scientific trials counsel larger weight reduction at this greater dose, however modest enchancment in blood sugar management, Chao says.


As with all medicines, there could be unfavourable results.

The most typical unwanted effects are gastrointestinal points, corresponding to nausea, constipation and diarrhea, Chao says, and extra hardly ever pancreatitis, gallbladder issues and diabetic retinopathy.

These medication have been studied extensively, however given their comparatively current approval, researchers nonetheless do not know the long-term results of their use. There’s additionally little or no knowledge on the results of stopping therapy, a scenario that would have an effect on a lot of sufferers resulting from shortages.

Research counsel that stopping therapy might result in weight regain, particularly if sufferers haven’t made way of life modifications.

“In virtually all weight reduction research, it is all about your habits,” says Solar Kim, an endocrinologist at Stanford College. “The efforts in your way of life will decide your weight reduction. In case you have good consuming, train, and sleeping habits, you may be tremendous. In any other case, you might regain as much as 20% of the misplaced weight per yr.

These medication will also be very costly, particularly with out insurance coverage. In response to Kim, an injection pen would value over $1,000 (€1,000) in the US.


Off-label use of a drug means utilizing that drug for functions apart from these authorised by the FDA, which could be each dangerous and ineffective. Ozempic has been licensed for kind 2 diabetics and Wegovy for sufferers with a BMI over 30, or 27 in the event that they endure from a weight-related comorbidity, corresponding to hypertension.

“There is no such thing as a scientific proof to indicate that this drug will probably be efficient or useful for many who don’t meet FDA-cleared label standards,” Chao mentioned. “Equally, we do not know the unwanted effects or dangers for these populations; there could also be unknown reactions to the drug. Weight problems is a power illness. These medication usually are not a miracle treatment. »

Even for those who meet these standards, specialists warn in opposition to attempting to acquire the drug and not using a prescription by turning to nations the place it’s not required.

“When the drug isn’t used below the supervision of a medical skilled, it may be misused,” says Chao. “This could result in extra critical opposed results. »

For specialists, confronted with the scarcity of Ozempic, diabetic sufferers ought to be given precedence.

“What worries me, and I hope it is going to solely be non permanent, is the provision drawback,” Kim mentioned. “If I needed to kind and prioritize, I might certainly favor individuals who use it to regulate their diabetes. I would like it to be obtainable for many who want it. »

Scientific director of the American Diabetes Affiliation, Robert Gabbay, says the group is “very involved” in regards to the scarcity of Ozempic.

“Remedy is a crucial software for diabetics,” he says. “It not solely lowers blood glucose ranges and weight, nevertheless it additionally helps cut back the chance of cardiovascular occasions (coronary heart assault), one of many main causes of demise in diabetics. »


Nonetheless, as Kim attests, prescribing medication like Ozempic and Wegovy to sufferers determined for a brand new method to weight reduction generally makes him really feel like “a superhero.” “. When sufferers come to her, they’ve typically tried strategies like Weight Watchers or diets provided by dietitians. In that case, she says, medication like Ozempic and Wegovy could also be a very good choice.

“In my expertise, when sufferers are profitable in reducing weight, it impacts their way of life as nicely and they are often extra energetic,” Kim explains. “It is exhausting to drop some weight. In the US, 75% of the inhabitants is obese or overweight. I believe we should not maintain again on this drug if it may possibly assist. »

Chao acknowledges that these medication supply a very good different for many who are unable to lose 5% of their physique mass after three months of way of life modification. Nonetheless, she recommends utilizing these approaches earlier than turning to medicine.

Sufferers ought to “ensure they give attention to wholesome consuming habits, decreasing energy whereas rising bodily exercise, within the first place,” she concludes. “They should be conscious that even within the presence of the drug, there will probably be no miracles: they’ll all the time should make modifications of their way of life. »

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