Semaglutide for Weight Loss: Understanding Its Efficacy and Safety

  Mar 21, 2024
Reviewed by Vivek Upadhyay

Semaglutide, an FDA-approved medication, originally developed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, has been making significant strides in the field of weight loss and obesity management. 

In the United States, where obesity is a prevalent health concern, the advent of SGT as a weight loss solution offers hope for those struggling to manage their mass through conventional methods such as diet and exercise. 

Clinical trials have demonstrated that, when used as an anti-obesity drug, it can induce significant mass loss in individuals, highlighting its potential efficacy.

The medication works by mimicking the effects of an appetite-regulating hormone GLP-1, which reduces hunger and calorie intake. 

SGT’s fat loss effects have been observed regardless of a patient’s baseline body mass index (BMI), making it a universally applicable treatment for individuals with varying degrees of overweight or obesity. 

Further benefits include improvements in waist circumference, lipid profiles, and other health markers.

Its administration method, once-weekly subcutaneous injection, also enhances patient compliance and comfort, a binding aspect of long-term fat management. 

The positive outcomes of continued SGT usage underscore its role as a sustainable weight management therapy, positioning it as a promising option for healthcare providers and patients alike in the battle against obesity.

Overview of Semaglutide

Semaglutide is an advanced medication used for managing type 2 diabetes and, more recently, for fat loss in adults. 

This drug functions by mimicking glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which plays a role in regulating appetite and food intake.

Mechanism of Action

SGT operates as a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist. 

It binds to and activates GLP-1 receptors, increasing insulin secretion while reducing glucagon secretion when blood glucose levels are high. 

Weight loss

According to Timothy Garvey, M.D., more than 50 percent of trial participants lost 15% body weight or more.

It also slows gastric emptying and reduces appetite, which contributes to its effectiveness in weight management.

Drug Forms and Administration

SGT is available in different forms, catering to various needs and preferences:

  • Subcutaneous injection: Available as Ozempic, it is administered once weekly.
  • Tablet: Known as Rybelsus, it is the oral form taken daily.
  • Injectable drug for weight loss: Marketed as Wegovy, used once weekly specifically for chronic mass management.

Patients are advised to follow a healthcare provider’s instructions regarding the administration of it to ensure optimal efficacy and safety.

Regulatory Approval

Regulatory agencies have approved SGT for multiple uses:

  • Type 2 diabetes treatment: The FDA approved it as Ozempic for this purpose in 2017 and as Rybelsus in 2019.
  • Chronic weight management: Under the trade name Wegovy, it received FDA approval in 2021 for weight loss in individuals with obesity or overweight with at least one weight-related condition.

Accessibility and Usage Data

SGT has gained attention for its efficacy in poundage management. 

This section delves into its market availability, how patients can find it, and insights into prescription trends and associated costs.

Market Availability

SGT, developed by Novo Nordisk, is available in the United States under the brand name Wegovy™ for poundage management. 

Its FDA approval ensures that it meets the necessary safety profiles for treating adults with obesity or overweight conditions when combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.

Finding Semaglutide

Patients looking for it can locate it at a variety of clinics, medical spas, fat loss centers, etc. across the United States, given that they have a valid prescription. 

Availability may vary, so patients are encouraged to check resources like Semaglutide Near Me to determine the nearest location offering it.

Prescription Trends and Cost

  • Prescription Trends: Its adoption has been rising, driven by strong clinical evidence and its incorporation into treatment guidelines for managing obesity.
  • Cost Factors: 
  • Insurance Coverage: SGT is covered under many insurance plans, though the degree of coverage varies.
  • Out-of-Pocket Costs: Without insurance, the cost may be prohibitive for some, underscoring the importance of checking with insurance providers about the level of coverage.
  • Assistance Programs: Novo Nordisk offers programs that may reduce out-of-pocket costs for eligible patients.

The cost and access to it are influenced by insurance coverage, local market factors, and assistance programs offered by the manufacturer.

Semaglutide in Weight Management

As a recently approved option for chronic poundage management, SGT has been validated for its role in combating obesity through the regulation of appetite and caloric intake. 

Clinical Efficacy

Trials have shown its efficacy in the treatment of obesity. 

Fast Fact:
The FDA approved subcutaneous semaglutide for long-term weight management in June 2021.
They approved higher doses of 1.7 and 2.4 mg once weekly.

This glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist works by mimicking an incretin hormone that enhances insulin secretion, leading to decreased appetite and caloric intake. 

In addition, patients receiving SGT, 2.4 mg, lost a mean of 6% of their fat by week 12 and 12% of their poundage by week 28 in large RCTs.

Semaglutide’s role extends beyond temporary poundage control, showing promise in long-term fat management.

Impact on Body Weight and BMI

In comparative studies, it achieved a greater reduction in body weight and body mass index (BMI) than other GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) and existing anti-obesity medications. 

Patients with a BMI of ≥27.0 kg/m^2 showed significant poundage loss, indicating the drug’s potential for individuals with obesity or those who are chubby and have weight-related comorbidities.

Comparison With Other Weight Loss Treatments

Compared to lifestyle interventions such as diet, exercise, and behavioral therapy, It enhances fat loss outcomes, performing favorably against alternative pharmaceuticals. 

It surpasses the efficacy of medications like liraglutide and the combination therapy of phentermine/topiramate. 

Although not as drastic as bariatric surgery, SGT presents a non-surgical option for those seeking substantial and sustained mass management without invasive procedures.

Potential Side Effects and Considerations

When considering chronic fat management, healthcare professionals and patients need to be aware of possible side effects. 

Do You Know:
As per the studies, in the SGT study, 82% of trial participants experienced gastrointestinal disorders, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea.

Moving forward, the following subsections outline the commonly observed adverse reactions, serious risks, and warnings associated with its usage, as well as contraindications and precautions that should be considered.

Common Adverse Reactions

SGT, a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, has been associated with a range of gastrointestinal side effects. Listing these by prevalence:

  • Nausea: A frequent initial side effect, which tends to decrease over time.
  • Diarrhea: Reported among those on SGT, may affect hydration and electrolyte balance.
  • Vomiting and Constipation: Both can occur, sometimes leading to discontinuation of treatment.
  • Gas and Fatigue: May be experienced, potentially impacting daily activities.

Serious Risks and Warnings

SGT carries warnings for several serious conditions that are less common but require immediate attention:

  • Pancreatitis: Manifested by severe abdominal pain, with or without vomiting.
  • Hypoglycemia: More likely when taken with other agents that lower blood sugar.
  • Hypertension and Cardiovascular Events: Constant monitoring is recommended.
  • Gallbladder Problems: Including gallstones, which may require medical attention.
  • Kidney Problems: Monitoring of kidney function is necessary.
  • Thyroid Tumors, including Cancer: Patients with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 should not use it.

Contraindications and Precautions

Certain conditions and circumstances warrant avoiding it or taking special care:

  • Allergic Reactions: Swelling, itching, rash, or difficulty breathing may occur.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Not recommended due to potential risks to the fetus or infant.
  • Low Blood Pressure: Patients may need their blood pressure monitored, especially if they have a concurrent condition.
  • High Cholesterol: Careful observation is needed as lipid profiles may change with weight loss.

Individual patient factors and comorbidities determine suitability for SGT, and ongoing assessment and patient dialogue are key to successful weight management with this medication.

To Sum Up

Decisively, you can consider semaglutide as a promising and effective option for chronic weight management.

Also, it is clinically effective for fat loss at 3 and 6 months for people with fat or obesity.

Besides this, SGT increased the quality of life for 40% to 50% of participants compared with about 30% taking PC.

Patients with a history of medullary thyroid carcinoma, pancreatitis, or tachyarrhythmias should avoid other glucagon-like peptide 1 agonists and SGT.