Sunday, March 19, 2023

Vox explains how Ozempic works and why a shortage developed

I'm taking a scientific tack on the Sunday entertainment feature today by examining Ozempic, which the FDA originally approved it as a diabetes treatment but has become popular in Hollywood as a weight-loss drug, enough so that Jimmy Kimmel opened his Oscars monologue with a joke about it. That piqued my curiosity, as I'm a diabetic and my doctor has recommended that I see if my insurance will cover it and similar drugs like Mounjaro and Wegovy. I haven't done that yet, since I'm controlling my blood sugar and losing weight on Farxiga while using less insulin. I decided I would hold off on following through with his suggestion until I stopped losing weight on my current drug regimen. Seeing all the buzz around the drug made me curious, so I watched when Vox uploaded Ozempic is a game-changer. Here’s how it works. Now I'm sharing it with my readers.

This diabetes drug could be the future of weight management.
Ozempic, a medication developed to manage type 2 diabetes, has been in the news a lot lately because of one of its signature side effects: drastic weight loss. Both Ozempic and Wegovy, Ozempic’s counterpart approved specifically for weight loss by the FDA, are brand names of a drug called semaglutide. Semaglutide is one of several drugs that mimics a crucial digestive hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1. It amplifies a process our bodies perform naturally.

GLP-1 is released in our intestines when we eat, and there are receptors for the hormone in cells all over the body. In the pancreas, GLP-1 promotes the production of insulin and suppresses the production of glucagon. This helps insulin-resistant bodies, like those with type 2 diabetes or obesity, manage blood sugar levels. In the stomach, GLP-1 slows gastric emptying, extending the feeling of being full. In the brain, GLP-1 suppresses appetite, which also promotes satiety and curbs hunger, so we eat less.

In late 2022, a rush to use Ozempic off-label for weight loss, likely prompted by its sudden rise in popularity in social media, led to a shortage of the drug for people who need it. But more drugs like semaglutide are currently in the process of being approved by the FDA to be prescribed for weight loss, likely signaling an end to the shortage and a promising new generation of medical treatment of obesity.
There's a lot about Ozempic we didn't have time to get into in this video, including more about medical discrimination around obesity and more context around recent drug shortages. This article from our website, written by Julia Belluz, provides more info:
Mila "The Hangry Woman" responded in the comments.
Mila here! Thanks to everyone for your supportive comments and Vox for letting me share my experience. When I started Ozempic for diabetes management, few people talked about the effects, so I decided to document my progress.

I'm so grateful that it has made diabetes management easier for me but disheartened that vanity weight loss has made it out of reach for patients who need it. Jimmy Kimmel even made a joke about it at the Oscars – that's what I meant by vanity weight loss and trivializing the medication.

I hope this is a good solution for people living with diabetes and obesity, but even more so, that the long-term effects don't cause additional health challenges. That remains to be seen, and I'll be documenting it for as long as I need it (or can afford it or access it).
First, I found this to be an informative video that helped me understand how the drug works and make me more interested in taking it. I also think my students would appreciate it. I had just lectured about hormones and the endocrine system a couple of weeks ago, but I'll be lecturing on the digestive system during the next two weeks and this would fit in there, too. This means that blogging about the video makes for good personal development, but also professional development.

Second, the effects of GLP-1 on various organs in the body and the drug's side effects both work as examples of "everything is connected to everything else and there is no free lunch" (the drug's cost might work for that as well). I'm not sure about it being an example of "nature knows best."

Third, there is something to be said about inequality of access to health care, celebrity culture, and attitudes about weight and weight loss, but I think the articles I linked to say them better, so read them.

Finally, it's always a good day when I learn something new. I hope my readers feel the same way.

Stay tuned for the Vernal Equinox tomorrow, the last post of the current blogging year, followed by Nowruz, which is also this blog's 12th birthday, and World Water Day. Holidays galore!

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