Despite social media buzz, Ozempic is not a quick-fix weight loss solution: doctors

Kerry Toneguzzi has tried out every thing to get rid of fat.

From reduced-calorie and liquid diet programs to Weight Watchers, almost nothing labored. In 2007, she had bariatric medical procedures and dropped 100 kilos – only to get it all back.

When she was diagnosed with diabetic issues in the tumble of 2020, her physician recommended she try out Ozempic – a drug accepted in Canada to treat diabetic issues, with a repeated aspect outcome of fat loss.

“In the commencing, I did not believe it would at any time function for me for the reason that very little really had labored for me,” Toneguzzi, 55, mentioned.

But it did. The Ottawa-area insurance policies underwriter lost 115 pounds about about two decades. What she finds even a lot more remarkable is that she has not acquired any of it back.

“For me to retain my fat for a calendar year, it’s a gain,” she claimed. “This drug has offered me a next chance at existence.”

Like Toneguzzi, a lot of Canadian obesity experts and endocrinologists are welcoming Ozempic as a drug that in fact performs in treating what they say is a genetic, medical issue.

“We’ve unsuccessful to have good results in pharmacotherapy till now,” claimed Dr. Sean Wharton, an inside medicine expert who operates a fat and diabetic issues administration clinic in Burlington, Ont.

With the arrival of Ozempic, persons residing with being overweight at last have a drug that can make a variance and can be an substitute to bariatric operation, he claimed.

But Ozempic has received notoriety in the latest months, with famous people singing the drug’s praises and lots of individuals posting achievement stories in excess weight loss they attribute to the drug.

Desire for Ozempic in Canada has risen steadily in excess of the final yr, in accordance to the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, which represents most of the major pharmacy chains in Canada, as nicely as many community drugstores.

The difficulty with that, some medical doctors and pharmacists say, is that Ozempic is not intended for sufferers who want to fall a couple of lbs . of “cosmetic body weight.” Additionally, men and women who require Ozempic very likely need it for everyday living – experiments have demonstrated that the moment they stop having it, the excess weight often arrives again.

“(There) should be no dilemma about that. Nobody should think that they’re working with this for small time period and going to halt it,” Wharton said.

“This is a for good treatment simply because (obesity is) a genetic condition.”

Ozempic prices between $200 and $300 for every month in Canada. Its company, Novo Nordisk, also acquired Overall health Canada acceptance in 2021 for a drug identified as Wegovy. Ozempic and Wegovy have the equivalent lively component — semaglutide — but Wegovy is a bigger dose to specifically address obesity.

Wellness Canada has also approved Wegovy for folks who are obese and also suffering from a serious fat-similar ailment this kind of as hypertension, diabetic issues or obstructive sleep apnea.

Semaglutide is effective by acting like a hormone identified as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which encourages insulin generation and also stimulates portion of the brain that controls appetite. Clients consider it by injection when a week.

Since Wegovy is not nonetheless readily available in Canada — and Novo Nordisk has not provided a day when it will be — some physicians are prescribing Ozempic at greater doses for their individuals struggling from obesity.

Dr. Ehud Ur, an endocrinologist at St. Paul’s Medical center and Vancouver Standard Healthcare facility, stated it’s significant to look at Ozempic and Wegovy as a healthcare option to handle a existence-threatening clinical condition, in conjunction with variations to diet regime, training and rest routines.

“Most folks really do not fully grasp that weight problems is not a beauty dilemma. It’s a major condition. Persons with being overweight will have a 10, 15, 20-calendar year reduction in their life expectancy mainly because of their pounds troubles,” reported Ur.

But on the front traces of major treatment, family medical practitioners have been fielding a increasing quantity of pleas from clients who want an Ozempic prescription, even while they are not suffering from being overweight, stated Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, a family medical professional in Toronto.

“People who are coming to me as a spouse and children medical doctor … are individuals who, you know, they’re having difficulties with the tummy fat, they are not even diabetic, they’re not even pre-diabetic and they’re asking for the drug,” she said.

Shelita Dattani, vice-president of pharmacy affairs for the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Affiliation of Canada, also methods on a spouse and children wellness group that is dealing with clients searching for Ozempic as a “quick fix” for fat loss.

“I’ve experienced men and women ask me, I’ve had buddies question me … ‘you know, I have a wedding day coming up’ or ‘I will need to be in a bikini’ or whichever it is,” Dattani stated.

Gorfinkel and Dattani equally say individuals requests have to have thoughtful discussions with individuals about weight reduction and other actions they can acquire.

“Obesity is a holistic dilemma. It is a biopsychosocial trouble,” Gorfinkel claimed.

People discussions just take a lot extended than just stating indeed and producing a prescription, she reported.

Gorfinkel also worries about opportunity facet effects.

In accordance to Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic details web page, the most common side outcomes involve nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal discomfort.

People signs go away right after a handful of weeks, said Ur.

The web site also lists extra critical possible aspect consequences such as swelling of the pancreas, gallbladder problems, kidney difficulties and lower blood sugar.

It also notes that scientific studies in rats showed thyroid tumours. The two Ur and Wharton stated there’s no rationale to consider that would happen in humans.

The well being threats of dwelling with weight problems usually outweigh the probable challenges of getting the drug, they claimed.

“It’s critical to have an understanding of who are the suitable individuals to handle due to the fact not every person is a applicant for Ozempic,” Ur mentioned.

“The easy stage to make is that in any cure in medicine you’re balancing danger from advantage.”

Gorfinkel claimed she would think about prescribing Ozempic together with way of living improvements if the patient fulfilled the health care criteria for being overweight.

But so significantly, that has not happened.

“I have but to prescribe it to any patients,” Gorfinkel mentioned.

“I’m very skeptical. I stress enormously that if I do prescribe it what might come about is that when they come off of it, they may experience major body weight gain.”

When questioned if Ozempic and Wegovy are intended to be taken for the rest of patients’ life, Novo Nordisk Canada said in an e mail, “Just like other serious illnesses, sort 2 diabetic issues and obesity both of those call for extended-expression administration.”

“Decisions about the appropriateness and length of any medicine should be created on an person foundation in session with a health and fitness-care qualified,” spokeswoman Amy Snow mentioned.

Toneguzzi, who has started a Fb group in Ottawa for some others who are contemplating Ozempic, has no illusions that the drug is nearly anything limited of a lifelong commitment to enable preserve her bodyweight.

She also wishes to assist other people be reasonable in their anticipations, noting that along with having Ozempic, she worked difficult on her fat reduction, which include a “very regimented” tactic to her diet program.

“It’s not a wonder,” she claimed.

“It wasn’t just the medication. I had to transform my total way of life.”

—Nicole Ireland, The Canadian Push

Health care and MedicineWeight Loss

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