For the 2 months Carey Yazeed took Ozempic, the drug labored as supposed. Yazeed has sort 2 diabetes, and the weekly injection lowered her blood sugar ranges. Nevertheless it additionally introduced negative effects she thought-about insufferable, together with vomiting, fatigue, complications and abdomen cramps.
5 weeks into taking the remedy, Yazeed stated, she discovered herself unable to maneuver off the toilet flooring.
“I had vomited a lot that I didn’t have the vitality to stand 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 unhealthy.”
The extreme results Yazeed confronted aren’t frequent, 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 yr, partially 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 yr, excessive demand and international provide constraints gave rise to shortages of the medications. The FDA reported a Wegovy shortage in March 2022, adopted by an Ozempic shortage in August.
A number of individuals interviewed stated the advantages they acquired from the medication outweighed the negative effects.
“It simply feels lighter transferring round. My garments match so significantly better and extra comfortably,” stated Stacey Bollinger, an account director in Maryland, who reported shedding 52 kilos since beginning Wegovy. “One thing so simple as bending over to tie my shoe is a lot simpler.”
Some individuals stated they felt advantageous on the medicines. However Yazeed and a few others described negative 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 also can tackle well being points linked to weight problems and diabetes, comparable 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 accredited Ozempic for individuals with sort 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 chubby and have least one weight-related well being situation, comparable to hypertension or ldl cholesterol. Ozempic shouldn’t be accredited for weight reduction, however docs typically prescribe it off-label for that goal.
Most individuals who took Ozempic or Wegovy stated it curbed their starvation and decreased cravings for unhealthy meals. Bollinger and Randi Lee Harper, a software program developer within the Seattle space, every reported shedding greater than 50 kilos.
Harper took Ozempic off-label for weight reduction from Could till November (she paused whereas transferring 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 whenever you’re chubby till you’re on a food regimen that simply helps you to not give it some thought a lot, like on Ozempic,” Harper stated.
For probably the most half, she added, she reacted nicely to the remedy, although typically she burped if she ate an excessive amount of — a reasonably frequent facet impact.
As for Bollinger, she stated that along with her weight reduction, her common blood sugar ranges have dropped to a degree the place she’s now not pre-diabetic.
A study of greater than 1,000 individuals with sort 2 diabetes discovered that semaglutide was simpler than insulin at decreasing blood sugar. The contributors had not seen outcomes from different antidiabetic medication, which they continued to take throughout the trial. In one other study of practically 2,000 chubby or overweight adults with out diabetes, individuals taking semaglutide misplaced a mean 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 better 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.
On Wegovy, she added, she eats much less total and has swapped sugary treats like cookies or muffins for more healthy options like yogurt or fruit.
For Yazeed, weight reduction was not the rationale she went on Ozempic, nor was it a objective. However on the drug, she stated, she needed to drive herself to eat and sometimes couldn’t abdomen something past a protein shake within the morning. On an excellent day, she may additionally tolerate some rooster broth.
She misplaced 10 kilos in two months, going from a dimension 12 to an 8 or 10.
Sufferers who cease taking the medication usually 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.
“Information from our medical trials for Wegovy confirmed that, not unexpectedly, sufferers expertise weight regain as soon as they cease taking the remedy,” Novo Nordisk informed NBC Information in a press release.
“This helps the idea 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 sort 2 diabetes, stated she has gained again about 15 kilos of the 25 she misplaced final yr 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 remedy, 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 the entire cravings, however worse,” Bayandor stated.
Negative 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 sort 1 diabetes, not sort 2.
Her nausea acquired so unhealthy that she may barely eat, Hamilton stated, and the meals she may tolerate weren’t notably wholesome.
“Paradoxically, it made me persist with very starchy, carby meals like potatoes as a result of they’re very bland. I ate loads of that and loads of plain toast,” she stated.
Individuals usually begin with a low dose of Ozempic or Wegovy, then ramp as much as cut back negative 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 most likely the dose is simply not an acceptable dose for them,” Stanford stated.
In clinical trials, 73% of adults taking the best dose of Wegovy reported gastrointestinal points. Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and abdomen ache are commonest. Some individuals have reported extra severe, albeit uncommon, negative 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 steering about methods to handle it.
Jastreboff stated she encourages her sufferers to devour smaller, extra frequent meals, not eat previous the purpose of fullness, and monitor which meals exacerbate their signs. Most negative 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 sort 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 most likely will,” Cornelius stated.
For Eric Joiner Jr., a former sort 2 diabetic, Ozempic hasn’t performed something past its supposed impact: enhance his kidney operate — an off-label utility of the drug. Joiner developed continual kidney illness as a byproduct of his diabetes.
He hasn’t skilled negative 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 revealed on TODAY.com