The #OzpemicWeightLoss Trend: Why is Ozempic Causing a Controversial Debate?
by Brianna Allison
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Brianna Allison. Find her on Instagram at @ballison7. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TikTok is constantly full of people sharing different tips and tricks to easily and quickly lose weight –drink warm lemon water in the morning, try this greens juice mix that will help with bloating, take this supplement and the list goes on. But, recently, many users have been promoting the use of the type 2 diabetes and obesity medicine, Ozempic.
#OzpemicWeightLoss is a trend that currently has over 118.2 million views on TikTok. People are sharing their experiences with the medicine and showing off their dramatic before and after photos. So what’s the problem with this? There are many people who are using the medication for a quick weight loss fix or cosmetic use instead of its intended purposes. And the increase in demand for Ozempic has caused a shortage for those who actually need the medication for their health, like those with diabetes or who are obese. This has caused a big debate about Ozempic.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic, which is the brand name of semaglutide, is a type 2 diabetes medication that was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. The medicine is a once-weekly injection that can help lower blood sugar and A1C. It also helps to lower the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as stroke, heart attack and/or heart disease.
Ozempic is also being used as a long-term weight management medication for those who are obese and struggling to lose weight. It helps to regulate appetite allowing the user to feel fuller faster which in turn makes them consume fewer calories. Although, the Ozempic website, does say that “Ozempic is not for weight loss.” However, in 2021 the FDA also approved Wegovy, which is a medicine that has a higher dose of the active ingredient semaglutide that is found in Ozempic. Wegovy’s website advertises it as a “medication for adults with obesity (BMI ≥30) or overweight (excess weight) (BMI ≥27) who also have weight-related medical problems.”
Why is it popular?
Both Ozempic and Wegovy have been all over the internet recently. But how did they become the weight loss “miracle drug?” Well, they are Hollywood’s best-kept secret, or I guess I should say was their best-kept secret. Celebrities like Kim and Khloe Kardashian are said to have been shedding pounds using Ozempic. And Elon Musk even tweeted that he lost weight by “Fasting And Wegovy” (Not that celebrities gaining or losing weight is any of our business or breaking news– shout out to @Lauren Sanchez).
After that, the craze for Ozempic and Wegovy started. And because many people are not using Ozempic for either of the intended purposes, issues have started to arise. There are many people, including celebrities, who are using the medications for a fast and easy weight loss journey.
“We have to understand that obesity is a chronic disease and should not be considered merely as a body image issue,” the director of the Julia McFarlane Diabetes Research Centre at the University of Calgary, David C. W. Lau, MD, Ph.D. said. “And many people think that if ‘I take the medication to lose a few pounds, I can stop after that.’” However, he added that once people stop taking these medications, they will likely regain some of their weight.
Not only that but using the drug off-label is creating a variety of problems for both the manufacturers and consumers who need Ozempic and Wegovy. Now, the FDA has listed both of the medications on their short supply list.
The diabetes medication shortages
How did it reach this point? Healthcare providers are sharing that they are getting large amounts of patients requesting to be prescribed Ozempic or Wegovy to help them lose weight. And now that Ozempic has gone viral the demand for the drug just continues to surge.
However, there are many doctors out there who are prescribing it to their patients without suggestion. And off-label, insurance will not cover the cost of the drug. That means the patient will pay around $900 out of pocket for a monthly supply of Ozempic and over $1,300 for a 28-day supply of Wegovy. Or they could even pay more. This makes it even harder for those who need these medications to attain them outside of a prescription.
Not only are Ozempic and Wegovy in shortage, but the high demand and limited supply of the drugs have caused a chain reaction. Because people with type 2 diabetes are unable to get Ozempic to regulate their blood sugar they are being prescribed other type 2 diabetes medications, such as Trulicity. Now, there is an unexpectedly high demand for Trulicity which in turn is causing a shortage of it.
My dad takes Trulicity for his diabetes and I have seen the huge impact that this has had on him getting his medication. It has taken weeks for him to get his prescription, and he was recently told by the pharmacist that they weren’t sure when they were going to have it in next. This is scary because, without his Trulicity, his A1C rises, and loads of other problems follow. Without his Trulicity, he could have serious health problems. And he is just one person who is affected by this. AND, he doesn’t even take Ozempic. So I can’t imagine what the people prescribed Ozempic for their diabetes are experiencing right now.
With that being said, it is important to address this situation because there are many people globally who are unable to get the proper medication that they need to live a happy and healthy life. #OzpemicWeightLoss trend is creating a demand that is unattainable for the manufacturers to slow down because too many people are taking the medicine off-label.
Obesity is a disease and these medications, specifically, Wegovy was created to help people fight this disease. It’s the equivalent of Ozempic being created to help manage someone’s type 2 diabetes. Without these medications, someone is struggling and their health is suffering.
So what do you think of Ozempic and Wegovy being used as quick and easy weight-loss medications? Is it fair to those who need these medications for their health? What do you think of the #OzpemicWeightLoss trend? Share with us in the comments below!
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