I Prescribe GLP-1s: What To Ozempic Conversation Is Missing

Medications like Ozempic or Wegovy are in a class called GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide-1, medications. The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide. Semaglutide is an incretin, a hormone produced in the gut that helps signal to your brain that you are full. Semaglutide also helps regulate the transit time in your gut; if food passes more slowly through your body, then you feel full for longer.

For context, GLP-1 medications have been used since 2005 to treat Type 2 diabetes. They have been thoroughly studied and recognized by the medical community as an effective treatment of diabetes. In 2021, semaglutide was approved under the brand name, Wegovy, for weight loss.

One myth that has been circulating around the internet is that Wegovy is more effective than Ozempic. In reality, they are the exact same. They are equally effective for weight loss at the same dosage. The thing is, until recently, Ozempic was typically prescribed at a lower dose when used for diabetes management. Wegovy, on the other hand, is prescribed with the intention of maximizing the dose to achieve optimal weight loss.

With the increase in demand for these medications, Ozempic started to be prescribed for weight loss and not just diabetes management, even though it’s technically only FDA-approved for diabetes.

Ongoing research is also looking into new medications. One is CagriSema, which is a combination of cagrilintide and semaglutide. Cagrilintide emulates amylin, a hormone that impacts satiety. The second is Retatrutide which is a GLP-1, gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), and glucagon agonist. It’s similar to Mounjaro but adds a glucagon agonist, which may help people burn more calories in addition to suppressing their appetite.

A big misunderstanding about this growing class of medications is that you can take them for a while and just get off of them. Ultimately, they are more of a chronic medication and work most effectively if taken consistently, similar to an anxiety or blood pressure medication (funny how we don’t judge these!). This is important to take into account before starting these medications.

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