IN RECENT MONTHS, there has been a noticeable rise in the use of medications like Ozempic in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. This trend is a testament to significant advancements in diabetes management and increasing awareness of the importance of controlling the chronic condition.
Ozempic, also known by its generic name semaglutide, belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1, receptor agonists. These medications work by mimicking the action of a natural hormone called GLP-1 in the body. GLP-1 helps regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating the release of insulin, reducing the production of glucose in the liver, slowing down the emptying of the stomach and increasing the feeling of fullness.
The use of these medications has also increased among people who do not have diabetes. In fact, some medications in this class are also approved as an adjunct to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in overweight or obese adult patients. The popularity of these medications comes from one of their effects in inducing weight loss in some individuals. While GLP-1 agonists were initially developed to help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar, many patients experienced significant weight loss while taking the medication. This additional benefit led to increased interest among individuals who were looking for effective weight loss solutions. It is important to note that medications in this class approved for weight management are available as different brand names and doses specific to this condition. These include Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liragludtide).
While GLP-1 agonists may have side effects, they are generally well-tolerated, and serious adverse events are rare. The safety profile has contributed to the drugs’ popularity.
It’s important to note that Wegovy and Saxenda are not stand-alone weight loss medications, and their use for weight management should be under the guidance of a health care professional. Not everyone who takes these medications will experience significant weight loss, and individual responses may vary.
It is also important to remember that using these medications for weight loss should be considered in the context of overall health and diabetes management. Before considering any medication for weight loss, people should consult with their health care provider to determine the most appropriate and safe approach to achieving their goals.
BROOKE HUDSPETH, PHARM.D., CDCES, is chief practice officer at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy.