A recent surge in demand for newer weight loss drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic is raising concerns among experts about safety and sustainable use of these injectable medications.
Shortage Leads to Off-Label Use
Spurred in part by celebrity endorsements and social media trends, interest in semaglutide drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic has skyrocketed beyond just treatment for obesity and diabetes. However, as demand outpaces supply, people are turning to off-label use of the cheaper and more available Ozempic instead of the Wegovy which is approved for weight loss (Business Plus).
This had led to shortages impacting people who need them for diabetes management. One endocrinologist said the problem reminds him of the initial shortages around insulin 100 years ago.
Potential Promise Alongside Risks
Semaglutide works by mimicking an appetite-reducing hormone and helping blood sugar control. Alongside the hype around weight loss, there is hope its effects could help conditions like fatty liver disease and even early Alzheimer’s dementia (BNN Breaking).
However, experts warn these drugs also carry risks like inflammation of the pancreas and gallbladder problems. They are not recommended for those with a history of certain cancers, pancreatitis, or severe gastrointestinal issues (PBS).
Many also caution these drugs promote weight loss but won’t lead to long-term behavior changes needed to sustain lower weight (Spectrum News).
|Up to 15% weight loss
|Gallbladder problems, pancreatitis
|Improved blood sugar control
|Dehydration and related issues
|Fatty liver disease
|Reduced liver fat
|Gallbladder problems, pancreatitis
|Dehydration, gastrointestinal problems
Table summarizing some of the off-label potential benefits and risks of using semaglutide drugs for conditions beyond obesity and diabetes.
Warnings Over Reckless Use
In the hype and rush to try these medications, experts warn people may be using them irresponsibly. Some endorsements online even promote extremely high doses, far beyond recommended levels (Spiked).
This had led to warnings not to use these drugs just to counter holiday weight gain or as a quick fix crash diet (The Guardian). They require close medical supervision, can have severe side effects, and rebound weight gain is common if use is stopped.
Looking ahead, the semaglutide shortage seems unlikely to abate soon with demand far above production capacity (Fox Business). However, as research continues, experts expect more obesity and weight-related treatments to emerge targeting different mechanisms of action (PBS).
In the meantime, public health efforts promoting healthy diets and active living remain critically important alongside medical treatments. Sustainable lifestyle changes reduce obesity-related health risks over the long term (Seguin Today). Integrative approaches addressing root causes of excess weight gain like stress and poor sleep may also help (Best Life).
- Shortages of semaglutide drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy due to surging interest for weight loss are impacting medical access and leading to off-label use.
- These injectable medications show promise helping obesity and conditions like fatty liver disease and early Alzheimer’s dementia but also carry risks like inflammation of the pancreas.
- Experts warn against reckless use driven by hype and urge close provider supervision, especially given common weight rebound when stopping.
- Public health efforts promoting healthy lifestyles remain vital alongside emerging medical treatments targeting weight and obesity.
The excitement around new medical treatments for weight loss warrants caution to ensure access for those who truly need them and responsible use under medical guidance. Sustainable results require holistic lifestyle changes addressing root drivers.
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