Wegovy is the new weight loss injection containing 2.4mg of the appetite suppressing medication. Find out what it is and how it works.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new weight-loss drug. It’s called Wegovy and has to be administered weekly via injection.
The FDA doesn’t approve new weight loss drugs often, so when it was announced on June 4, 2021, it was big news. The last time the FDA approved a new drug for weight loss was in 2014.
Wegovy was developed by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. It provides a synthetic version of a gut hormone that reduces appetite. The generic form of Wegovy is called Semaglutide.
Note: Wegovy (Semaglutide) is not available over the counter. Much like other prescription diet pills and medication it is vis doctor administration only.
What is Semaglutide (Wegovy)?
Semaglutide was developed as an anti-diabetic medication. It has been an FDA-approved treatment for diabetes since 2017 and is distributed under the brand name Ozempic.
Semaglutide is also an approved diabetes treatment in several other countries including Japan and Canada. It has an advantage over alternative medications because diabetics only need to have one injection per week.
The only difference between Ozempic and Wegovy is the dose. Ozempic provides 1 mg of Semaglutide via injection. Wegovy provides 2.4 mg of Semaglutide.
However, new users cannot start out with the standard dose. They need to build up to this gradually over a period of 16 to 20 weeks. This gradual introduction is necessary to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
FDA approved the weigh loss drug Wegovy for obese individuals on June 4th 2021
How Does Wegovy Work?
Wegovy is an appetite suppressant. As with alternative medications that control hunger, it supports your existing weight loss endeavors by making it easier to avoid overeating and be happy with smaller portions of food.
There are several ways medications and over-the-counter supplements can inhibit hunger. Phentermine achieves it by initiating a state of fight or flight. Glucomannan does it by taking up space inside the stomach.
Wegovy does things differently. After it has been injected, it mimics a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).
GLP-1 is produced in the intestines in response to nutrient digestion. After it enters the blood, it affects the body in several different ways.
It has favorable effects on insulin and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in the pancreas. That’s why Semaglutide works so well as an anti-diabetic.
When GLP-1 reaches the brain, it induces a feeling of satiety and, acting like a switch, turns your appetite off. (https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/51/suppl_3/S434)
However, you cannot use Wegovy alongside other products that provide Semaglutide. Nor can you use it alongside other GLP-1 receptor agonists, or any product that aims to support weight loss. When you use Wegovy, you have to let the medication go it alone.
Who Can Use Wegovy?
Like all the other weight-management medications that have FDA approval, Wegovy has certain restrictions regarding its use.
Doctors can only prescribe Wegovy to patients who are extremely overweight or obese (body mass index of 27 kg/m2 or higher) and also suffer from at least one additional weight-related health condition such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.
Patients who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or higher may be eligible for a prescription without any additional conditions.
Safety Issues and Considerations
Although Wegovy has the potential to be a valuable weight loss aid, the new weight loss drug also presents some risks. Using it alongside other weight loss products, including natural supplements, may increase the likelihood of negative issues.
Using Wegovy may also entail a risk of thyroid C-cell tumors so it’s unsuitable for anyone who has a personal or family history of thyroid tumors.
Wegovy may increase the risk of depression and/or pancreas inflammation as well. It’s never been tested on people who have a history of pancreatitis.
However, the most common side effects include:
- Stomach pain
Although side effects are never desirable, some experts point out Wegovy is much safer to use than some of the previously approved weight loss medications. Only a small percentage of test participants had to drop out of the studies due to side effects.
What the Research Shows on Wegovy
Wegovy’s potential for safely supporting weight loss has been evaluated in four clinical trials. All four trials were conducted over 68 weeks.
Three of the trials were randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled. One of them was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized withdrawal trial. During this trial, some of the participants continued with the medication while others were switched over to a placebo. [source]
In total, across the four trials, more than 2,600 people were given Wegovy for up to 68 weeks while more than 1,500 people got a placebo.
The largest placebo-controlled trial involved non-diabetic adults with an average body weight of 231 pounds (105 kg). The average BMI was 38 kg/m2. The participants who got the medication lost significantly more weight (12.4%) than the ones who got the placebo.
One of the trials only included adults with type 2 diabetes. In this case, the average body weight was 220 pounds (100 kg). The average BMI was 36 kg/m2.
Although the level of weight loss was not as notable, the Wegovy group still lost 6.2% more weight than the placebo group.
Although 6.2% may not appear to be a lot, it’s important to keep things in perspective.
Dr. Harold Bays points out: “With existing drugs, you’re going to get maybe 5% to 10% weight reduction. Sometimes not even that.”
Dr. Bays is the medical director of the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center. He’s also the chief science officer at Obesity Medicine Association.
How Much Does Wegovy Cost?
When the FDA approved Wegovy as a new weight loss drug, one of the first things a lot of people were curious about was the price. Unfortunately, Novo Nordisk has yet to reveal how expensive Wegovy is going to be. However, a company spokesperson states the new drug will probably be priced similarly to its other weight loss medication, Saxenda.
Saxenda costs $1,349 a month (without insurance), but the injection is daily, not weekly, so the comparison does not make things adequately clear.
Other Weight Loss Drugs Comparable to Wegovy
The closest comparable weight loss injection is Saxenda – commercially know as the SkinnyJab.
Other similar weight loss and weight management medications include Orlistat and Phentermine.
Another medication called Linzess is used for weight loss even though its not a dedicated weight loss medicine. Linzess encourages bowel movements by increasing the amount of fluid present in the intestines.For this reason, many people are curious about the value of Linzess as a weight loss aid.
No, it is not available otc. It is obtainable only via doctor consultation. Patients who are very overweight or obese (a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or higher) and also suffer from at least one additional weight-related health issue such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.
As yet there is no pricing indication. Early indications are that it will prices similarly to Saxenda (knowns as the SkinnyJab) at around $1,349 a month.