Ozempic is not a magic bullet for weight loss, experts say
< p class="sc-v64krj-0 dlqbmr">An injection of Ozempic
Increasingly known on social networks for its ability to lose weight quickly, the drug Ozempic is gaining popularity in Canada. However, experts warn that its use should be restricted to medical purposes, rather than people who want to lose a few pounds quickly.
In Canada, Ozempic is authorized to treat diabetes, but its weight loss side effect does not go unnoticed.
Kerry Toneguzzi had tried everything to lose weight, but nothing helped . In 2007, she underwent bariatric surgery and lost 100 pounds, only to regain all that weight over time.
When she was diagnosed with diabetes in the fall of 2020, her doctor suggested she try Ozempic. Reluctant at first, she gave it a shot anyway and lost 115 pounds in two years. What she finds most remarkable is that she never regained anything afterwards.
For me, maintaining my weight for a year, it's a victory, she underlines. This drug gave me a second chance in my life.
Like Ms. Toneguzzi, many Canadian obesity specialists agree that Ozempic actually works for the treatment of this genetic disease.
With the advent of x27;Ozempic, obese people now have a drug that can be an alternative to bariatric surgery, according to Dr. Sean Wharton, who is an internal medicine specialist and runs a weight and weight management clinic. diabetes in Burlington, Ontario.
Demand for Ozempic in Canada has grown steadily over the past year, according to the Neighborhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, which represents most major drugstore chains in Canada, as well as many local pharmacies.
However, some doctors and pharmacists are seeing people claiming to take Ozempic to lose a few pounds of cosmetic weight, which it is not intended for.
The problem is that some people who take Ozempic need it long term, since studies have shown that once they stop taking it, the weight comes back. often.
[There] should be no doubt about that. No one should think they can use it in the short term to lose weight for good, says Wharton.
< p>“It's a drug that you have to take forever, because [obesity is] a genetic disease.
— Sean Wharton, MD
Ozempic costs between $200 and $300 per month in Canada. Its maker, Novo Nordisk, also won Health Canada approval in 2021 for a drug called Wegovy. Ozempic and Wegovy have the same active ingredient – semaglutide – but Wegovy contains a higher dose to specifically treat obesity.
Health Canada has also approved Wegovy for overweight people who also have a serious weight-related illness such as hypertension, diabetes, or obstructive sleep apnea.
Because Wegovy is not yet available in Canada – and Novo Nordisk has not given a date when it will be – some doctors are prescribing Ozempic in higher doses for their patients suffering from obesity.
Dr. Ehud Ur, an endocrinologist at St Paul's Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital, recalls that it was important to consider Ozempic and Wegovy as medical solutions to treat a disease potentially fatal. They should be used in conjunction with changes in diet, exercise and sleep habits.
Most people don't understand that obesity is not a cosmetic problem, it is an important disease. Obese people will see their life expectancy reduced by 10, 15 or 20 years because of their weight problems, argues Dr. Ur.
But family doctors recently receive a number increasing number of requests from patients who wish to receive a prescription for Ozempic, even if they are not obese.
The people who come to see me are people who have problems with abdominal fat, says Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, who is a family doctor in Toronto. They're not even diabetics, not even pre-diabetics, and they're asking for this drug.
Same story with the Canadian Pharmacy Association's vice-president of pharmaceutical affairs neighborhood, Shelita Dattani.
“People have told me they have a wedding coming up or that ;they need it to fit into their bikini. »
— Shelita Dattani, Neighborhood Pharmacy Association of Canada
According to Novo Nordisk's Ozempic information website, the most common side effects are nausea , vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain.
These symptoms disappear after a few weeks, says Dr. Ur.
The website also lists more serious potential side effects, including inflammation of the pancreas, gallbladder problems, kidney problems, and hypoglycemia.
The The health risks of living with obesity often outweigh the risks of taking this drug, however, say experts consulted by The Canadian Press.
“It is important to understand that there are patients who really need it. Ozempic is not right for everyone.
— Ehud Ur, endocrinologist
Dr. Gorfinkel, meanwhile, would be open to prescribing Ozempic to patients who met the medical criteria for #x27;obese and who would be willing to change their lifestyle.
But so far, this has never happened.
I haven't prescribed it to patients yet, confirms Dr. Gorfinkel.
When asked how long Ozempic and Wegovy should be taken for by patients, Novo Nordisk Canada responds by email: Like other chronic diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesity both require long-term management.
Decisions about the suitability and duration of any medication should be made on an individual basis in consultation with a healthcare professional, says company spokeswoman Amy Snow.