What are the risks and benefits of the new weight loss drug

What are the risks and benefits of the new weight loss drug

Since 1975, Obesity has nearly tripled worldwide, and the problem is on the rise. In that context, there is a race to develop effective and safe treatments and Now the focus is on the injectable drug, whose active ingredient is Semaglutide and was first released for patients with diabetes, with the denomination Ozempic®, and in a higher dosage, for Treatment of obesity, with the trade name Wegovy®.

As anticipated Infobae the product already approved for prescription sale in Argentina by ANMAT, the regulatory authority for medicines in the country. According to Infobae the Novo Nordisk laboratory, which manufactures the two versions of semaglutide, the drug will be available in Argentina within the period of The next 12 months,

It is important to note that it is not a drug for everyone. It is only indicated and authorized for adult patients who also Simultaneously eat a reduced-calorie diet and increase physical activity for weight control.

It is intended for adults with a body mass index greater than 30 (obesity), or between 27 and 30 (overweight) in the presence of at least one weight-related comorbidity, such as glycemic alterations (prediabetes or type 2 diabetes mellitus), hypertension, dyslipidemia, obstructive sleep apnea or cardiovascular disease.

According to the U.S. regulatory agency, the FDA, semaglutide belongs to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.

The drug won notoriety because several Hollywood celebrities have used it. This notoriety has caused, on the one hand, shortage in several countries in the face of increased demand, and on the other, “off label” indications before Wegovy’s® authorisation which is specifically indicated for obesity. This means that many patients accessed Ozempic® as a resource for weight loss, when designed for the treatment of diabetes.

The active substance, semaglutide, mimics the hormone GLP-1 that is released from the gastrointestinal tract in response to food intake. One of the functions of this hormone is to induce the body to produce more insulin, which reduces blood glucose. GLP-1 in higher amounts also interacts with parts of the brain that reduce appetite and signal feelings of satiety.

Wegoby® and Ozempic® are medicines that have the same active ingredient, semaglutide, and are produced by the same pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk. The difference is that Ozempic® is approved for people with type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy® is for people who are obese or overweight and with comorbidities related to excess weight.

Semaglutide was first approved as a treatment for type 2 diabetes at doses slightly lower than those indicated for obesity. That is, the main difference is the quantity of semaglutide in each dose, and what they have been approved for

The dosage of these drugs must be progressive, so Wegovy™ is distributed in five different doses and their Treatment extends for at least 6 months.

In the first month patients receive a dose of 0.25 mg once a week and increase the dosage every 4 weeks until reaching Full dose of 2.4 mg.

In several of the countries where it was approved, patients are enthusiastic about losing weight in the first weeks and abandon treatment, something that is contraindicated. Or do not accompany pharmacological treatment with changes in habits, which implies that one of the roots of the problem of obesity is not solved, linked to a sedentary lifestyle or an unbalanced diet.

The doctor Carla Musso, coordinator of the Diabetes Department of the Favaloro Foundation, remarked to Infobae than semaglutide It should be given together with change in eating behaviour, physical activity and psychological support. “The overweight or obese person also needs the Psychological support to help in changes in lifestyle habits and get out of sedentary lifestyle, “said the expert, who participated in one of the controlled trials of semaglutide.

The drug Wegovy has a higher dose of semaglutide than Ozempic. It influences weight through two key mechanisms. On the one hand, it affects the hunger-associated centers in the brain, specifically the hypothalamus. That reduces the feeling of hunger, appetite and cravings in the people who receive it.

In addition, it slows down the rate of emptying of the stomach, which prolongs the feeling of fullness and satiety after meals. Everything leads to the decrease of overweight.

“By receiving the injectable medication under medical prescription, the patient maintains the pleasure of eating without an emotional adverse effect. The benefit is that satiety is easier for patients,” he said. Monica Katz, creator of the #MovimientoNoDieta and director of the Diploma in Obesity of the Favaloro University, when consulted by Infobae.

There are also cardiovascular benefits for patients when using the drug semaglutide. “It generally has few adverse effects, but there are some patients who do not tolerate it,” he added.

Side effects of semaglutide may be nausea, diarrhea, constipation, or headache. But in most cases they are mild.

Depending on the lab that makes it, the drug should not be used if the person or someone in your family has ever had a type of thyroid cancer, called medullary thyroid carcinoma.

It should also not be used if the person has a endocrine system disease called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) syndrome or you have had a severe allergic reaction to semaglutide or any of the ingredients.

In June, experts from the Mayo Clinic and Mount Sinai in the United States warned about the side effects of new weight-loss drugs, which include semaglutide and others such as tirzepatide.

As for semaglutide, Dr. Meera Shah, Endocrinologist of the Mayo Clinic, He said the most common side effect he sees in patients is nausea, followed by abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. “These side effects can sometimes improve over time but, At least 10% of patients who start these drugs have to stop because the side effects don’t get better,” she said.

“Constant nausea and abdominal pain is an unpleasant reality. The stomach and brain are so connected that intestinal problems can lead to stress, anxiety and depression; It’s what’s known as the “gut-brain connection,” he added.

As he explained to Infobae The Doctor Leon Litwak, endocrinologist and associate diabetologist of the Service of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nuclear Medicine of the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, “patients with gallbladder inflammation problems or gallstones or with a family history of thyroid cancer should be more careful when using semaglutide”.

It is unknown whether Wegovy® can be used safely in people with a history of pancreatitis, the laboratory clarified on the official website.


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