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What is Ozempic and Why Am I Hearing So Much About It?

Ozempic, a drug used to treat diabetes, has gained much attention recently. Celebrities, Tiktok influencers, even a tech mogul have described taking it to lose weight in a short period of time. Last October, Elon Musk publicly attributed his slimmer appearance to Ozempic in a tweet.

On TikTok, #Ozempic has racked over 274 million views since popular talk show host, Andy Cohen tweeted about it last September. In addition, Kim Kardashian has been widely suspected of using the drug to lose weight dramatically in order to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Happy Birthday” dress for the Met Gala 2022.

Regardless of whether celebrities admit to using it for weight loss, Google searches for Ozempic have also been on the rise, indicating a curiosity about its weight loss effects. Despite the pharmaceutical brand’s website explicitly stating that “Ozempic is not a weight-loss drug”, people have been using Ozempic for the sole purpose of weight loss.

Throughout this article, we cover everything you need to know about this prescription-only medication, and why this trend is concerning for many reasons.

If you wish to learn more about diabetes, click here.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic along with Wegovy and Rybelsus, are the brand names for an anti-diabetes medication called semaglutide. Developed by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, the drug was created specifically to improve the management of type 2 diabetes. Ozempic was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2017 for diabetes management [1].

A prescription for Ozempic for weight loss would be an “off-label” use of the drug, which means that it is being prescribed for a condition other than what the FDA has approved it to treat.

How Ozempic works?

Ozempic (Semaglutide) is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1) agonist that increases the secretion of insulin (which works to decrease blood sugar levels) after a meal while reducing the production of glucagon (which helps increase blood sugar levels).

ozempic-weight-loss-diabetes-medication

As a GLP-1 agonist, it also goes to the brain to suppress appetite and slows the emptying of the stomach [2]. According to its pharmaceutical makers, Novo Nordisk, Ozempic improves blood sugar control in three important ways:

insulin-increase-injection-medication
  1. Increasing insulin release from the pancreas when blood glucose levels are high
  2. Keeping the liver from making and releasing excessive amounts of glucose
  3. Reducing the speed at which food leaves the stomach after eating

Ozempic is injected into a thin layer of fat along the arms, thighs, or abdomen once a week through a single-use injection pen.

How does Ozempic affect someone without diabetes?

To gain a deeper understanding of Ozempic’s impact on weight loss, its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, began the Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity (STEP) program in 2018 [3]. The participants were overweight or obese but were not diabetics.

Based on a 68-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Ozempic was found to result in 14.9% weight loss from baseline in patients taking Ozempic in combination with lifestyle modifications, including a healthy diet and regular exercise. It is noteworthy that these results are similar to those patients who have had more invasive weight loss measures such as gastric sleeve surgery [4].

Is Ozempic Safe for Anyone?

Apart from Ozempic not being approved by the FDA for weight loss, there are other reasons why it is not worth risking in the pursuit for weight loss. For example, Ozempic is not recommended for anyone with a family history of thyroid cancer – even as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes [5].

Common side effects associated with Ozempic include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
ozempic-side-effects-stomachache (1)

Side effects that can be more severe include:

ozempic-side-effects

Ozempic | How much does Ozempic cost in Singapore?

In Singapore, semaglutide is used to treat patients with diabetes and is available in the brand names of Ozempic and Rybelsus. The other brand name, Wegovy, is currently not available in Singapore as of yet.

Ozempic is an injectable and Rybelsus is available in tablet form that you take once a tablet daily. Therefore, Rybelsus is suitable for individuals who are not comfortable with doing self-injection.

The average cost of Semaglutide (Ozempic and Rybelsus) in Singapore is as below:

  • Ozempic 0.25/0.5mg costs at least $400 per pen
  • Ozempic 1mg costs at least $430 per pen
  • Rybelsus 3mg costs at least $220 per box
  • Rybelsus 7mg costs at least $380 per box
  • Rybelsus 14mg costs at least $400 per box

It is important to note that prices of Ozempic can vary depending on where its being prescribed.

ozempic-weight-loss-medication-injectiong-pen

Diabetics deprived of Ozempic by rising demand

With Ozempic’s weight-loss capacity becoming more well known, many have been seeking this “magic pill.” As the medication was not intended for this purpose, there was no preparation for the surge in demand. This has resulted in shortages worldwide.

As reported by NBC, the supply shortages of Ozempic have meant that diabetic patients are struggling to find their medication. Due to lack of availability, those who could were forced to take a lower dose [6].

The only alternative for patients who cannot find Ozempic was to switch to another medication, which may not be as effective. The switch to another drug might also complicate matters for these patients when Ozempic becomes available again.

Ozempic is NOT a wonder drug for weight loss

Ozempic shows some potential therapeutic benefits outside of type 2 diabetes management, but more long term research is required. While the search for new weight-loss options will always be constant, it is crucial to leave Ozempic supplies to those with type 2 diabetes who need the medication based on legitimate medical needs.

Instead of seeking a quick, easy way to lose weight with multiple unwanted side effects, there are more sustainable ways to slim down and lose stubborn pockets of fat. If you want to get rid of stubborn pockets of fat that won’t yield to any diet or exercise, speak to us or click here to find out more about non-invasive fat removal treatments.