WeGovy: A New Weight Loss Drug
With so much advice and lifestyle tips out there to help reduce weight, the brainy bunch at Novo Nordisk might have just found us the secret cure to washboard abs and no more bingo wings. At the start of 2022, they launched a product called Wegovy - also known as semaglutide. In this article, we take an unbiased and deep dive into the world of Wegovy. We take a look at what it is, how it works, what you might expect when you are on this medication, and if it is as good as it claims to be.
What is Wegovy?
Wegovy, when used together with diet and physical activity, helps people to lose weight and keep their weight under control. Due to the nature of Wegovy, it is only licensed with, who have:
- a BMI of 30 kg/m² or greater or
- a BMI of at least 27 kg/m² but less than 30 kg/m² who have weight-related health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal levels of fats in the blood, or a history of heart attacks
BMI (body mass index) is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. Wegovy is available as pre-filled pens containing a solution for injection. It is injected once a week under the skin in the abdomen, thigh or upper arm.
To reduce the risk of symptoms affecting the gut, the weekly dose starts at 0.25 mg and increases gradually over 16 weeks to 2.4 mg. Patients can administer the medicine themselves. They can also change the injection site and the day of the weekly injection. For the latter, the new day should be at least 3 days after the previous day for the injection.
How Does Wegovy Work?
Although obesity and overweight are associated with resistance to the plasma glucose-lowering actions of insulin, many other metabolic pathways remain responsive to insulin. The incretin GLP-1, through its receptor, increases survival of β cells and inhibits their apoptosis. Plasma concentrations of GLP-1 analogues are not increased in people with obesity or overweight and are, in fact, decreased in people with severe obesity. However, the insulin response to nutrient ingestion in such people is increased, suggesting that, as with glucose and non-esterified fatty acids, the β cell might become more responsive to the effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists to modulate insulin secretion. GLP-1 receptor agonists such as liraglutide and semaglutide stimulate postprandial insulin secretion, reduce glucagon secretion, delay gastric emptying, and induce weight loss through reduction of hunger and consequent food intake. It can also increase the feeling of fullness in patients, and reduce feelings of cravings.
Wegovy Side Effects
It is worth noting that every person that takes a medicine will have a different experience on it, and most of you will not experience any side effects mentioned but it is important to inform you of what is a common side effect, and what needs urgent attention. Thankfully, the vast majority of the side effects experienced by patients are rather mild and tend to be self limiting. The most common side effects reported, which is roughly 1 in 10 people, included headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, and abdominal pain. However, more severe side effects can include persistent, severe abdominal pain or pancreatitis.
How Effective is Wegovy?
Studies have shown that Wegovy is effective in helping people lose weight, with a significant proportion of them achieving at least a 5% weight reduction. In the first of these, involving 1,961 people, people treated with Wegovy were able to lose on average 15% of their body weight after 68 weeks compared with a 2% loss of weight in people who had placebo.
Is Wegovy Safe?
Recommendations and precautions to be followed by healthcare professionals and patients for the safe and effective use of Wegovy have been included in the summary of product characteristics and the package leaflet. As for all medicines, data on the use of Wegovy are continuously monitored. Suspected side effects reported with Wegovy are carefully evaluated and any necessary action taken to protect patients. The European Medicines Agency decided that Wegovy’s benefits are greater than its risks and it can be authorised for use in the EU.
For some individuals, it can be extremely challenging to lose weight naturally, however this medication does seem to provide a possible and effective weight loss solution. Obesity is a chronic issue that requires long term management and can be associated with other fatal health risks. However, taking this product may cause serious and common side effects. Wegovy for weight loss is designed to gradually increase dosage over time to minimise side effects. Remember to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are interested in taking Wegovy because it can cause interactions with other prescription medications individuals may be taking as well. It is important to note as well that as effective as Wegovy is, it will only be beneficial to you if you want to lose weight yourself - this won't melt the pounds off you automatically - this is a helpful aid in the fight against weight loss and will show great results if part of a health and balanced diet, as well as regular exercise.
Author: Matt Jennings MRPharmS
Clinical Reviewed By:
Ibrahim Nakib BSc(Hons) MRPharmS