Authored by Maya Nachman
Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro… Do any of these sound familiar? The names of these weight loss drugs have been thrown around on news sites and social media apps, followed by conflicting opinions on their efficacy, risks, and benefits. There have been numerous mixed points of view when it comes to who qualifies for these drugs and who should be eligible to use them. All of the recent buzz surrounding this new “solution” to eliminating unwanted weight has left individuals wondering whether or not they can indulge in drugs such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy.
The simple answer is: it depends. Ozempic is a drug that was developed mainly to target adults who have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes as a way of improving their blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of major cardiovascular events . While the benefits of these weight loss drugs appear to be extraordinary, the drugs cannot be taken without immense caution and a deep understanding of their potentially detrimental impact on a person’s health. This medication is prescribed to patients because their physician believes that the benefits to using it will outweigh any of the possible side effects that may arise. Thus, while Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy seem to be the most efficient solution to cutting back some unwanted weight, they are not necessarily meant for the common individual who is hoping to lose a few pounds. These drugs come with major side effects and a unique purpose that was originally intended for individuals struggling with Type II Diabetes .
Amidst a country where three-quarters of Americans grapple with obesity or being overweight, the demand for weight-loss solutions has reached unprecedented levels . Ozempic and Wegovy both function by mimicking the GLP-1 receptor antagonist (an insulin secretion inhibitor) within the individual’s body, telling them they are full as well as lowering blood sugar levels . It also works to slow down the digestive tract and increase the amount of time it takes for food to exit the body so that the stomach feels more full. Mounjaro, on the other hand, targets both the GLP-1 and GIP hormones, which regulate blood sugar levels and help patients lose significant weight . While these drugs have been transformative in terms of their ability to help individuals lose tremendous amounts of weight, they come with many dangers and risks, and thus, must be taken with caution.
As expected, this drug has been prescribed off-label to an extraordinary degree. Unfortunately, this has also led to a major supply shortage in the market of these drugs . The demand has exceeded the manufacturers' ability to produce them, prompting Novo Nordisk (which makes Ozempic and Wegovy) and Eli Lilly (which makes Mounjaro) to urgently increase their production capacity . Doctors are having to explain to eligible diabetic and obese patients that they cannot even prescribe the drug to them as there is none left in stock at pharmacies. As a potential solution, Novo Nordisk has begun to lessen the recommended starting dose for patients in order to prioritize the continuation of a supply to people who are already using it. Artificial intelligence is also being used to predict how patients will respond to varying dosage amounts, which will help manufacturers better anticipate the amount of product they need to produce in order to meet demand .
It is apparent that these weight loss drugs are incredibly effective, and thus highly popular. However, the recent influx of off-label use of weight loss medication has caused major shortages in the market of these drugs. Thus, unless users understand the risks/benefits, make an informed decision with their physician, and leave enough supply for the populations that need it most, the craze for Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro has done more harm than good.
Ozempic for weight loss: Does it work, and what do experts recommend? (n.d.-b). Cultivating-Health.https://health.ucdavis.edu/blog/cultivating-health/ozempic-for-weight-loss-does-it-work-and-what-do-experts-recommend/2023/07
Are the Newest Weight Loss Drugs Too Good to be True? | UC San Francisco. (2023, September 11). Www.ucsf.edu. https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2023/09/426081/are-newest-weight-loss-drugs-too-good-be-true
Blum, D. (2022, November 22). What Is Ozempic and Why Is It Getting So Much Attention? The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/22/well/ozempic-diabetes-weight-loss.html
Bushard, B. (n.d.). Shortage Of Weight-Loss Drugs Like Wegovy And Ozempic Persist—And Could For “Some Years.” Forbes. Retrieved November 22, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianbushard/2023/09/16/shortage-of-weight-loss-drugs-like-wegovy-and-ozempic-persist-and-could-for-some-years/?sh=65875f8e631e
Tirrell, M. (2023, October 6). Makers of Ozempic, Mounjaro race to ramp up supply amid skyrocketing demand for drugs for weight loss. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/06/health/ozempic-mounjaro-supply/index.html