What it’s prefer to take the blockbuster medication Ozempic and Wegovy, from extreme unintended effects to dropping 50 kilos

For the 2 months Carey Yazeed took Ozempic, the drug labored as supposed. Yazeed has kind 2 diabetes, and the weekly injection lowered her blood sugar ranges. But it surely additionally introduced unintended effects she thought-about insufferable, together with vomiting, fatigue, complications and abdomen cramps.

5 weeks into taking the medicine, Yazeed stated, she discovered herself unable to maneuver off the toilet ground.

“I had vomited a lot that I didn’t have the power to rise up and I used to be principally mendacity in it,” she stated. “I couldn’t even elevate my head to vomit within the commode. It was so dangerous.”

Dr. Carey Yazeed. (Courtesy Carey Yazeed.)

Dr. Carey Yazeed. (Courtesy Carey Yazeed.)

The extreme results Yazeed confronted aren’t widespread, however individuals’s experiences taking Ozempic and its sister drug, Wegovy, can range broadly — from substantial weight reduction and minimal discomfort on one finish of the spectrum to excessive results on the opposite.

NBC Information spoke to 10 individuals about their experiences taking these blockbuster medication, each of that are types of semaglutide. They’re designed to imitate a hormone that indicators to the mind when an individual is full and promotes the discharge of insulin, a hormone that stops blood sugar from getting too excessive. In flip, the medicines can decrease blood sugar ranges and suppress appetites.

They’ve soared in recognition over the past 12 months, partly from social media consideration and billionaires like Elon Musk touting the medication’ weight reduction results.

Prescriptions for Ozempic tripled from 2021 to 2022, based on information from the prescription drug low cost firm SingleCare, which has greater than 5 million members. Final 12 months, excessive demand and international provide constraints gave rise to shortages of the medicines. The FDA reported a Wegovy scarcity in March 2022, adopted by an Ozempic scarcity in August.

A number of individuals interviewed stated the advantages they bought from the medication outweighed the unintended effects.

“It simply feels lighter shifting round. My garments match so significantly better and extra comfortably,” stated Stacey Bollinger, an account director in Maryland, who reported dropping 52 kilos since beginning Wegovy. “One thing so simple as bending over to tie my shoe is a lot simpler.”

Stacey Bollinger. (Courtesy Stacey Bollinger)

Stacey Bollinger. (Courtesy Stacey Bollinger)

Some individuals stated they felt high-quality on the medicines. However Yazeed and a few others described unintended effects that compelled them to cease taking the medication or query whether or not they may keep on them long run.

Weight problems medication specialists who prescribe Ozempic and Wegovy stated the medication can rework sufferers’ lives and well being. The burden loss results can allow sufferers to do actions they couldn’t do beforehand, like chase after grandchildren or discover garments that match at mainstream shops. Semaglutide may handle well being points linked to weight problems and diabetes, corresponding to an elevated danger of coronary heart assaults or stroke.

“By treating weight problems, you’re successfully doubtlessly treating over 200 different obesity-related or weight-related ailments,” stated Dr. Ania Jastreboff, an affiliate professor of medication on the Yale Faculty of Drugs. Jastreboff serves on the scientific advisory board of Novo Nordisk, which makes Ozempic and Wegovy.

Accounts of dramatic weight reduction

The Meals and Drug Administration accepted Ozempic for individuals with kind 2 diabetes in 2017, then Wegovy — the identical drug, which matches as much as larger dosage — in 2021 for weight reduction in adults with weight problems or these who’re obese and have least one weight-related well being situation, corresponding to hypertension or ldl cholesterol. Ozempic isn’t accepted for weight reduction, however medical doctors generally prescribe it off-label for that function.

Most individuals who took Ozempic or Wegovy stated it curbed their starvation and lowered cravings for unhealthy meals. Bollinger and Randi Lee Harper, a software program developer within the Seattle space, every reported dropping greater than 50 kilos.

Harper took Ozempic off-label for weight reduction from Might till November (she paused whereas shifting to Washington state however plans to start out once more). She stated she nonetheless loved her favourite meals — like truffle mac n’ cheese and Bitter Patch Youngsters sweet — however her parts had been smaller.

“You don’t understand how a lot your life is centered round meals while you’re obese till you’re on a weight loss plan that simply helps you to not give it some thought a lot, like on Ozempic,” Harper stated.

For essentially the most half, she added, she reacted nicely to the medicine, although generally she burped if she ate an excessive amount of — a reasonably widespread facet impact.

As for Bollinger, she stated that along with her weight reduction, her common blood sugar ranges have dropped to some extent the place she’s not pre-diabetic.

examine of greater than 1,000 individuals with kind 2 diabetes discovered that semaglutide was more practical than insulin at reducing blood sugar. The members had not seen outcomes from different antidiabetic medication, which they continued to take in the course of the trial. In one other examine of almost 2,000 obese or overweight adults with out diabetes, individuals taking semaglutide misplaced a median of 34 kilos in lower than 16 weeks, in comparison with 6 kilos amongst these receiving a placebo.

Dr. C. Nicole Swiner, a household medication physician in Durham, North Carolina, stated she began taking Wegovy in 2021 after seeing how a lot it helped her sufferers. She has misplaced 30 kilos since then, she stated.

“As a result of I’m not ravenous, I can truly cease and make a wiser choice [rather] than, ‘Oh my God, I’m ravenous. Let me seize no matter’s within the workplace kitchen,’ which is normally junk,” Swiner stated.

C. Nicole Swiner. (Chris Charles)

C. Nicole Swiner. (Chris Charles)

On Wegovy, she added, she eats much less total and has swapped sugary treats like cookies or muffins for more healthy alternate options like yogurt or fruit.

For Yazeed, weight reduction was not the explanation she went on Ozempic, nor was it a purpose. However on the drug, she stated, she needed to power herself to eat and infrequently couldn’t abdomen something past a protein shake within the morning. On day, she may additionally tolerate some hen broth.

She misplaced 10 kilos in two months, going from a measurement 12 to an 8 or 10.

Sufferers who cease taking the medication typically regain weight

Like many medication, the results of semaglutide cease when sufferers go off of it, so some individuals regain weight. Specialists stated they think about Ozempic and Wegovy to be lifelong medicines.

“Knowledge from our scientific trials for Wegovy confirmed that, not unexpectedly, sufferers expertise weight regain as soon as they cease taking the medicine,” Novo Nordisk advised NBC Information in an announcement.

“This helps the assumption that weight problems is a continual illness that requires long-term administration, very like hypertension or excessive ldl cholesterol, for which most sufferers stay on remedy long run,” the corporate added.

Ebony Wiggins, who has kind 2 diabetes, stated she has gained again about 15 kilos of the 25 she misplaced final 12 months whereas taking Ozempic.

Artemis Bayandor, who lives in Naperville, Illinois, stated she weighs extra now than when she took Wegovy: Inside one month of stopping the medicine, she gained again the 15 kilos she had misplaced on the drug, she stated, plus an additional 10 over the following six months.

“For the primary week I used to be OK, and for the second week I went proper again to all the cravings, however worse,” Bayandor stated.

Unwanted side effects put some individuals off the medicines

Courtney Hamilton didn’t made it greater than a month on Ozempic, which her physician prescribed off-label as a result of Hamilton has kind 1 diabetes, not kind 2.

Her nausea bought so dangerous that she may barely eat, Hamilton stated, and the meals she may tolerate weren’t notably wholesome.

“Sarcastically, it made me persist with very starchy, carby meals like potatoes as a result of they’re very bland. I ate a whole lot of that and a whole lot of plain toast,” she stated.

Individuals usually begin with a low dose of Ozempic or Wegovy, then ramp as much as scale back unintended effects. Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, an assistant professor of medication at Massachusetts Common Hospital, stated some extreme results could also be the results of elevating that dosage too rapidly.

“If the affected person’s saying, ‘Oh gosh, I’m sick. I can’t even go to work, I’m vomiting all day,’ it’s in all probability the dose is simply not an applicable dose for them,” Stanford stated.

In scientific trials, 73% of adults taking the very best dose of Wegovy reported gastrointestinal points. Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and abdomen ache are commonest. Some individuals have reported extra severe, albeit uncommon, unintended effects like pancreatitis and kidney failure.

Novo Nordisk stated sufferers experiencing nausea as a facet impact ought to contact their well being care supplier for steerage about methods to handle it.

Jastreboff stated she encourages her sufferers to eat smaller, extra frequent meals, not eat previous the purpose of fullness, and monitor which meals exacerbate their signs. Most unintended effects happen as individuals are growing their dosage, then subside as soon as they attain the upkeep section, she added.

Megan Cornelius, who has been taking Ozempic off-label for kind 1 diabetes for a number of years, stated she was nauseous and fatigued at first however these results light over time.

“So long as I can proceed to take it, I in all probability will,” Cornelius stated.

Eric Joiner Jr. (Cortesía de Eric Joiner Jr.)

Eric Joiner Jr. (Cortesía de Eric Joiner Jr.)

For Eric Joiner Jr., a former kind 2 diabetic, Ozempic hasn’t achieved something past its supposed impact: enhance his kidney perform — an off-label software of the drug. Joiner developed continual kidney illness as a byproduct of his diabetes.

He hasn’t skilled unintended effects or weight reduction from Ozempic, he stated, however he acknowledges that isn’t true for everybody.

“On the finish of the day, it’s a really private factor,” he stated. “Your biology is totally different than mine.”

This story initially appeared on NBCNews.com.

This text was initially printed on TODAY.com

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