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By now, you’ve heard of the popular type-2 diabetes injectable drug Ozempic being used off-label for weight loss. Wegovy (a similar drug) has been cleared by the FDA. Both drugs have gotten a ton of attention for helping the obese to lose weight. It gave hope to tens of thousands of people exhausted by yo-yo dieting and never seeming to make progress.

Adding fuel to the public fire, celebrities from Amy Schumer to Elon Musk have talked about using the drugs to lose weight. When a pharmaceutical becomes a regular topic in the gossip pages, you know it’s crossed into the mainstream.

Semaglutide (the active ingredient) is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It mimics the GLP-1 hormone released in the gastrointestinal tract in response to eating. It triggers the body to produce more insulin, which reduces blood glucose (sugar). GLP-1 in higher amounts also interacts with the parts of the brain that reduce appetite and signal a feeling of fullness, according to the FDA. 

In short, it tells the body to stop eating and prevent cravings. A life-changing alteration for people in the target market: the very obese and type-2 diabetics.

But with celebrity endorsements and radical results, it’s being used by people with far less weight to lose.

Doctors are warning that the drugs are causing quite a surge in ER visits due to the severe side effects of violent diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and nausea. 

In addition, many pharmacies have struggled to meet demand. Rogue pharmacies have started “mixing” their own compounded “cocktail” versions of the medications and cashing in on patients willing to try anything to lose weight. The FDA cautioned consumers about the rise in risky counterfeit versions of the drug, which are also causing even greater waves of sickness.

In their release, the agency said: “FDA has received adverse event reports after patients used compounded semaglutide.”

More than 80% of the 2,000 obese adults taking semaglutide suffered side effects while on the drug, according to its clinical trial in 2021. The side effects were the already mentioned diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and nausea. But one in ten patients also experienced severe side effects, sometimes as serious as gallstones, pancreatitis, or even kidney failure, which, in some cases, led to them discontinuing the medication altogether. 

Since the study, other side effects have been presented, including muscle loss.

Over the past three years, prescriptions for Ozepic have skyrocketed more than 2,000%, from 230,000 a year in 2019 to more than five million last year alone. And projections keep rising. 

Doctors had to start rationing Ozempic in May after its popularity as a weight-loss drug led to widespread shortages nationwide. And patients who actually have type-2 diabetes are struggling to find the medication they need for their healthcare. 

There’s no such thing as a magic wand or a pharmaceutical without side effects. Everything is a trade-off.

For those dealing with debilitating, life-endangering obesity, the side effects of these drugs may be worth the risk.

For everyone else, making sustainable lifestyle changes like diet improvement (not crash dieting) and exercise are still the best way to lose weight.

If you want something to help along that journey, our meal replacement & protein shakes are a great way to get nutrients without as many calories. Alternatively, we have Slender Pro Essentials, a supplement that works to reduce hunger and increase satiety… but without the laundry list of side effects!