Understanding Ozempic: 8 Facts You Should Know

By Fiona Golfar

2 weeks ago

A brief history of the infamous weight loss drug

When it comes to the world of weight loss, nothing has made quite the splash in recent history that Ozempic has. The drug has been on the scene since 2017, when it was first approved to treat diabetes, but has since become a popular dieting alternative for Hollywood elites. But what actually is it, and what does it do? These are the facts and stats to know about Ozempic.

Know Your Ozempic Facts

1. It’s A Fairly New Treatment

In the US, the FDA approved Ozempic in 2017 to help control blood sugar in type-2 diabetes. In the UK, Ozempic is available only on prescription, to be administered once-weekly.

2. Weight Loss Came Later

Ozempic is a trade name of the medication semaglutide. It stimulates the release of insulin, lowers blood sugar and slows stomach emptying. Under the trade name Wegovy and made by Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk, semaglutide was approved by the FDA for weight management in June 2021. In clinical studies, the average patient lost 15 percent of their body weight.

3. There Are Some Side Effects

In March 2023, Wegovy was approved for NHS use for patients with a BMI that puts them near the top of the obese range, as well as those with at least one weight-related health condition. There is a two-year maximum limit for the prescription. According to an August 2022 study, after coming off semaglutide, patients on average put back two-thirds of the weight they lost within a year. Possible side effects are listed as pancreatitis, changes in vision, kidney failure, and ‘possible thyroid tumours, including cancer.

Woman with measuring tape around her waist | Ozempic diary

4. There Is A Supply Shortage

In October 2022, the European Medicines Agency reported ‘an increase in demand for Ozempic, which has led to intermittent supply shortages that are ongoing’.

5. It’s Not Cheap

The average cost of one month of Ozempic 1ml is £199. If you include the ongoing blood tests and doctor’s appointments, it’s not a cheap option.

6. It’s Not A Do-All Drug

Doctors recommend regular blood tests and putting the work in with exercise and a healthy diet, and not just counting on the drug.

7. You Need To Start Small

Most doctors recommend starting on 0.25 ml of semaglutide, graduating to 0.5ml and after about four months to 1 ml. Side effects can include nausea, which will usually pass after a few minutes.

8. There Are Supportive Programmes Available

London Medical offers holistic programme Smartweight, which includes a consultation with a medical doctor, blood tests and, for suitable candidates, a monitored prescription for Ozempic alongside a nutrition coach.

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