It's World Diabetes Day! 1...
As we march into 2023, many of us have a few resolutions we’d like to achieve by the end of the year and losing weight or keeping fit is definitely one of the most typical ones.
If you’ve been scrolling on TikTok, you must’ve heard of the recently very famous antidiabetic medication — Ozempic, with hashtags like #ozempic, #myozempicjourney, #ozempicjourney etc. Some celebrities like Adele, Rebel Wilson, Elon Musk are confirmed or rumored to be using Ozempic for their weight loss, causing it to fly off shelves.
But what do we know about Ozempic? Is it true that while it is indicated for Type 2 Diabetes and is effective in managing weight loss that it can be used as an off-label drug for weight loss? Continue reading to find out!
In Malaysia, Ozempic is available in 2 forms; one with 0.25mg delivering 0.5mg/dose and another that delivers 1mg/dose.
Ozempic, whose generic name is also known as Semaglutide is a once-weekly antidiabetic medication that is administered subcutaneously (under the skin). It belongs to the drug class glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist where it binds to GLP-1 receptors and subsequently stimulates the pancreas to release insulin whenever there’s an elevation in blood sugar level. From a pharmacological point of view, GLP-1 also has a secondary role in appetite control as it mimics the hormone GLP-1 by slowing down the digestive process so food sits longer in the stomach and thus giving users the sensation of feeling full. Because of that reason, weight loss is a common occurrence among diabetic patients who are on Ozempic.
Besides regulating glucose levels in the body and contributing to weight loss, the drug also lowers the risk of hypoglycemia (low sugar levels) as well as reduces the risk of heart problems for people with concomitant known heart disease. In short, it offers attractive advantages over other antidiabetic medications and hence was used as an off-label for weight loss over the years.
However, Ozempic is not licensed or indicated for weight loss purposes! Its sister brand, Wegovy with a higher dose of Semaglutide on the other hand was FDA approved in 2021 as a weight management injection for adults:
Nonetheless, incorporating a healthy and balanced diet along with physical exercises should also be accompanied with Wegovy treatment for maximum effect.
According to studies, one common side effect of Ozempic is gastrointestinal symptoms such as feeling nauseous from having food staying in your stomach for a prolonged period of time where there have been reports of patients feeling nauseous to the point of vomiting or dry heaving. Diarrhea is also one of the common side effect of Ozempic.
Other side effects include stomach pain, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), vision changes, kidney failure and possibly gallbladder issues. Its use is also contraindicated (should never be used) for people who have suffered from medullary thyroid cancer or certain endocrine disorders as there are concerns that the drug may result in thyroid cancer.
If you’re not diabetic and are well and young, you don’t need to depend on Semaglutide (Ozempic) for weight loss as its risks outweigh its benefits.
As the demand for Ozempic increases due to its word of mouth marketing by famous influencers and the power of social media, diabetic patients who are in need of Ozempic are left dizzy and scared as a result of the global drug shortage. With limited access to Ozempic, patients have had to check multiple pharmacies, accept lower doses than what they’ve been prescribed, wait in line for months for supply or even switch their medication altogether. This poses dangerous and serious health concerns as diabetic patients could be at higher risks of diabetic-associated complications from uncontrolled diabetes such as heart disease, heart attacks, emergency hypertension, diabetic retinopathy (complication of the eye from high sugar levels) or diabetic kidney disease.
While there are other alternatives that people with diabetes can take instead, the shortage of Ozempic is causing a ripple effect with other similar injectable GLP-1 agonist drugs with shortages of their own kinds. Furthermore, a different drug may also result in patients suffering from other side effects that would require close monitoring just in case the alternative doesn’t work as well.
Besides, clinical trials and recently TikTok star Remi Bader have reported that users find themselves regaining all the weight lost as soon as they stop taking Ozempic, indicating a lifelong dependency if users wish to retain their lean physique after consuming Ozempic. This is not favorable and does not give a lifelong solution for patients who are on Ozempic solely for weight loss purposes.
Globally, Ozempic is a Group B poison that requires a prescription from the doctor before it can be dispensed by a registered pharmacist from a licensed pharmacy. With that in mind, we at DOC2US would like to remind the public to never purchase this drug from any online sources as it may be a counterfeited/fake medication and could lead to other health hazards to consumers.
In cases where patients feel they would benefit from Ozempic or wish to consult a doctor on whether they’ll be a good fit for Ozempic, you can now download our app either on App Store or Google Play Store to speak to our professional doctors online with just a click away. At DOC2US, you can save yourself the trouble from queuing long hours for doctor visits and yet still receive an electronic prescription approved by KKM to purchase any pharmacist-only medications from your local pharmacy.
This article is written by Janelle Leong, Bpharm(Hons) (DOC2US),
reviewed by Dr. Ahmad Haniffan, MBBS (DOC2US)
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