Kerry Toneguzzi has experimented with everything to shed weight.
From small-calorie and liquid diet plans to WeightWatchers, almost nothing worked. In 2007, she had bariatric surgical treatment and missing 100 lbs . — only to gain it all back.
When she was identified with diabetic issues in the slide of 2020, her health care provider suggested she test Ozempic — a drug authorised in Canada to deal with diabetes, with a frequent aspect outcome of weight decline.
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“In the beginning, I did not feel it would ever work for me mainly because nothing actually experienced labored for me,” Toneguzzi, 55, explained.
But it did. The Ottawa-place insurance plan underwriter shed 115 kilos in excess of about two many years. What she finds even more outstanding is that she hasn’t gained any of it back.
“For me to maintain my bodyweight for a year, it is a earn,” she said. “This drug has specified me a second possibility at lifestyle.”
Like Toneguzzi, many Canadian weight problems experts and endocrinologists are welcoming Ozempic as a drug that truly performs in treating what they say is a genetic, health-related issue.
“We’ve unsuccessful to have success in pharmacotherapy right until now,” mentioned Dr. Sean Wharton, an interior drugs expert who operates a fat and diabetes management clinic in Burlington, Ont.
With the introduction of Ozempic, folks dwelling with obesity eventually have a drug that can make a difference and can be an different to bariatric medical procedures, he mentioned.
But Ozempic has gained notoriety in new months, with stars singing the drug’s praises and numerous persons publishing good results tales in body weight reduction they attribute to the drug.
Demand for Ozempic in Canada has risen steadily above the past yr, in accordance to the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Affiliation of Canada, which signifies most of the significant pharmacy chains in Canada, as very well as numerous community drugstores.
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The issue with that, some doctors and pharmacists say, is that Ozempic is not intended for people who want to fall a several lbs of “cosmetic bodyweight.” Moreover, persons who require Ozempic probable have to have it for lifetime — studies have demonstrated that when they halt getting it, the bodyweight often arrives back again.
“(There) should be no question about that. No person ought to imagine that they’re using this for quick time period and heading to end it,” Wharton said.
“This is a without end medication mainly because (being overweight is) a genetic ailment.”
Ozempic expenses concerning $200 and $300 for each month in Canada. Its maker, Novo Nordisk, also got Health and fitness Canada approval in 2021 for a drug identified as Wegovy. Ozempic and Wegovy have the identical lively ingredient — semaglutide — but Wegovy is a higher dose to exclusively deal with being overweight.
Health Canada has also accepted Wegovy for people who are overweight and also suffering from a severe body weight-related situation this kind of as hypertension, diabetic issues or obstructive slumber apnea.
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Semaglutide performs by performing like a hormone named glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which promotes insulin output and also stimulates element of the mind that controls urge for food. People acquire it by injection once a week.
Because Wegovy is not nevertheless readily available in Canada — and Novo Nordisk has not given a day when it will be — some physicians are prescribing Ozempic at higher doses for their sufferers struggling from weight problems.
Dr. Ehud Ur, an endocrinologist at St. Paul’s Medical center and Vancouver Common Medical center, mentioned it is critical to seem at Ozempic and Wegovy as a health-related alternative to take care of a lifestyle-threatening health care problem, in conjunction with alterations to diet regime, workout and snooze behaviors.
“Most people today never comprehend that being overweight is not a cosmetic problem. It is a substantial ailment. Men and women with being overweight will have a 10, 15, 20-calendar year reduction in their life expectancy for the reason that of their pounds difficulties,” said Ur.
But on the front strains of primary treatment, family medical professionals have been fielding a escalating range of pleas from people who want an Ozempic prescription, even however they are not suffering from weight problems, mentioned Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, a household physician in Toronto.
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“People who are coming to me as a spouse and children health practitioner are people today who, you know, they’re struggling with the belly unwanted fat, they are not even diabetic, they are not even pre-diabetic and they are asking for the drug,” she said.
Shelita Dattani, vice-president of pharmacy affairs for the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Affiliation of Canada, also tactics on a relatives wellness team that is dealing with individuals seeking for Ozempic as a “quick fix” for bodyweight decline.
“I’ve experienced individuals ask me, I’ve experienced pals question me … ‘you know, I have a marriage coming up’ or ‘I will need to be in a bikini’ or whatsoever it is,” Dattani explained.
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Gorfinkel and Dattani both equally say these requests need considerate discussions with patients about excess weight loss and other actions they can acquire.
“Obesity is a holistic challenge. It is a biopsychosocial difficulty,” Gorfinkel claimed.
These discussions get a great deal more time than just expressing sure and creating a prescription, she claimed.
Gorfinkel also problems about likely facet effects.
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In accordance to Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic information web page, the most typical side effects contain nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and belly pain.
All those symptoms go away following a couple of months, said Ur.
The web-site also lists extra serious possible aspect consequences which includes irritation of the pancreas, gallbladder troubles, kidney problems and lower blood sugar.
It also notes that scientific tests in rats confirmed thyroid tumours. Equally Ur and Wharton mentioned there is no motive to think that would come about in people.
The overall health threats of living with weight problems usually outweigh the prospective threats of taking the drug, they mentioned.
“It’s important to fully grasp who are the ideal sufferers to treat for the reason that not everybody is a prospect for Ozempic,” Ur stated.
“The simple position to make is that in any procedure in medication you’re balancing risk from gain.”
Gorfinkel claimed she would take into account prescribing Ozempic along with life-style changes if the affected individual satisfied the clinical requirements for obesity.
But so far, that has not occurred.
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“I have nonetheless to prescribe it to any individuals,” Gorfinkel explained.
“I’m exceptionally skeptical. I get worried immensely that if I do prescribe it what may perhaps transpire is that when they come off of it, they may well encounter considerable pounds acquire.”
When requested if Ozempic and Wegovy are intended to be taken for the rest of patients’ lives, Novo Nordisk Canada reported in an e mail, “Just like other chronic disorders, variety 2 diabetic issues and being overweight both need extensive-time period administration.”
“Decisions about the appropriateness and duration of any medication really should be made on an person basis in session with a health and fitness-care skilled,” spokeswoman Amy Snow mentioned.
Toneguzzi, who has started a Facebook group in Ottawa for other individuals who are considering Ozempic, has no illusions that the drug is anything at all short of a lifelong determination to enable retain her fat.
She also would like to help others be sensible in their anticipations, noting that together with taking Ozempic, she labored tough on her pounds reduction, which include a “very regimented” tactic to her diet.
“It’s not a wonder,” she mentioned.
“It was not just the treatment. I had to transform my total life-style.”