Ozempic, the “worst kept secret in Hollywood,” has become increasingly popular due to its weight loss results—hyped even by billionaire Elon Musk—causing a shortage, even though it’s really meant for use in patients with type two diabetics.
A pharmacy technician grabs a bottle of drugs off a shelf.
Ozempic (known generically as semaglutide) is an injection used to lower blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C (the part of red blood cells with glucose attached) in type two diabetics; low A1C levels decrease diabetes complications like stroke, high blood pressure and blindness.
Manufactured by Novo Nordisk, the drug is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor antagonist (a class of drugs used to treat diabetes) that was first approved for use in type two diabetics in 2017.
To lower blood sugar and A1C, the drug reacts with the body in three ways by helping the pancreas produce more insulin when blood sugar is high, slowing down the process of food leaving the stomach and stopping the liver from making and releasing too much sugar.
It’s meant to be injected once weekly in either the thigh, stomach or upper arm, with or without meals at any time of day, and patients typically start out taking a dose of 0.25 mg, though after four weeks it’s bumped up to 0.5 mg and then up to 1 mg if “more glycemic control is needed.”
Out of the more than 37 million Americans with diabetes, the vast majority—between 90% to 95%— have type two diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One of the side effects of Ozempic is weight loss, so some doctors have been prescribing the drug as an off-label use (the unapproved use of an approved drug) for weight loss in those without diabetes—Ozempic has not been approved by the FDA as a weight loss drug.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found those who took Ozempic for 68 weeks, paired with a reduced calorie diet and a more active lifestyle saw an average change of body weight of 14.9% compared to a 2.4% change in the placebo group.
These findings have caused both obese people and those slightly overweight to request Ozempic prescriptions from their doctors.
Although Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss, Wegovy, a higher-dose version of Ozempic, was approved for weight loss by the U.S. Food and …….