Published June 2023
You may have seen recently that there are new weight loss medications available, and you might be wondering if these are right for you. Most of us have tried various weight loss diets, tools, clubs, and even one to one practitioners and have met with little success. The brand names that you may have heard of are Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus. These are all being talked about in the media, and are all weight loss medications containing Semaglutide.
What is it and how does it work?
The active substance within these branded medications is Semaglutide, a synthetic version of a naturally occurring hormone called GLP-1, also known as the feeling full hormone. Semaglutide induces a feeling of fullness, reducing the craving for food, helping patients to eat less and thus lose weight. These medications have shown to significantly reduce body weight, an average of around 15% within one year. The data overwhelmingly shows that the medication is most effective when used in conjunction with positive lifestyle changes.
Is Ozempic or Wegovy right for me?
- Wegovy is licensed for weight loss for clients with a BMI of 30 or more. Or for clients that have a BMI over 27 with further weight related health problems.
- Ozempic is licenced in the UK for the treatment of diabetes only, but can be used for weight loss on an off-licence basis.
Both of these medications are injections under the skin.
- Rybelsus is an oral tablet with the same active ingredients and offers similar effects.
In the USA there is a new injection on the market called Mounjaro. We expect this drug to be available in the UK within a year, early trials suggest it may be more or equally effective as the drugs available in the UK already.
When will I see results, and what happens when I stop taking it?
When using semaglutide based drugs results are usually seen within the first 2 weeks. Trials have shown that weight loss continues for over a year. When the medication is stopped, the weight is often mostly regained. Hence the medication is currently advised for up to 2 years before stopping, and is supported by diet and exercise changes.
What are the risks of weight loss medications?
This group of medications have been safely used for a long time to treat patients with diabetes, but as with all medications they do come with some rare side effects such as nausea, constipation, diarrhoea and some abdominal discomfort. These symptoms often subside quickly. There is a small risk of pancreas inflammation (gallstones), caused by fast weight loss rather than the medication itself, and in some cases a look of premature ageing when the face has rapidly lost some of its natural fat filler.
Your Concierge Medical doctor can refer you to a specialist to see whether you would be suitable to commence this medication. Once under specialist direction, we can support you with ongoing prescribing, monitoring and lifestyle medicine input.
We are seeing some fluctuations in pricing due to various market factors, at this current time costs for the different branded medications are around:
- Wegovy and Ozempic approx. £50-80 per injection (needed weekly)
- Rybelsus tablets approx. £160 per month (depending on dose)