The talk of the town lately has been none other than… weight loss medications. Ozempic, Wegovy, Saxenda, Mounjano… these names are seen all over social media and on TV, and it causes us to wonder what all the buzz is about and if they really are a safe and effective way to lose weight. Today, we are going to discuss a few of these medications and what they do.
First, who may benefit from the use of these medications?
Our board-certified obesity medicine providers use medical history and BMI to help decide whether you could benefit from these medications. Patients who are overweight or obese are ideal patients for these medications. You may benefit from them if you have:
- a BMI of 30 or greater (obese)
- a BMI of 27 or greater (overweight), and have comorbidities such as high blood pressure, heart disease, type II diabetes, etc.
So… what types of weight loss medications are out there?
There are many different types of medications used for weight loss, which may be used “off-label” in some cases, meaning that health care professionals may use medications in a way that’s different from what the FDA has approved. It is not rare for doctors to prescribe “off-label,” but make sure to speak to your doctor about any risks or side effects involved.
Semiglutide (Wegovy and Ozempic)
Ozempic and Wegovy are both injections that contain semaglutide. Semaglutide mimics our natural GLP-1 hormone, making it an effective drug for blood sugar regulation, reduction in A1C levels, and the treatment of overweight and obesity. Ozempic is approved by the FDA to treat Type 2 diabetes, but it can also be prescribed off-label for weight loss treatment. Wegovy is already approved by the FDA for weight loss treatment.
The biggest difference between the two is that Wegovy and Ozempic have different dosages. Wegovy is a higher-dose version that’s already been FDA approved for weight loss. Keep in mind, however, that both have been shown to be safe and effective for weight loss when used in combination with lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and exercise.
Liraglutide (Saxenda) is an FDA-approved, daily injection for weight loss. It is also a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that, in addition to stimulating insulin release and inhibiting glucagon secretion, slows gastric emptying and increases satiety after eating. This in turn works by decreasing appetite. A common side effect of using this medication is an upset stomach. Your dose is usually raised slowly over several weeks to help minimize this side effect.
Tirzepatide (Mounjaro) is FDA approved for Type 2 diabetes. It is also prescribed off label as a weight loss treatment for obese and overweight patients. Tirzepatide is the first of its kind, because it’s the first combination of two classes of medications: a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist and a glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptor agonist. It works to signal to the brain that you are full, so that you eat less and slows the movement of food through your stomach so you feel full for longer.
Mounjaro comes as a once-weekly injection. It works by impacting your body’s insulin levels, blood sugar production, and hunger hormones. The FDA has granted this medication a fast-track review for the treatment of obesity and overweight. This means they will review and potentially approve it for weight loss sooner than is typical for medication approval.
Naltrexone/Bupropion Sustained Release (Contrave)
CONTRAVE is an FDA-approved weight-loss medication for people who obese or are overweight with at least one comorbidity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. It is designed to reduce hunger and control cravings, to help you lose weight and keep it off when combined with diet and exercise.
Due to its active ingredients, Bupropion and Naltrexone, this drug may also help to treat depression and/or substance abuse. Although the approval by the FDA is for weight loss, one could make the argument that this combination may also be effective in treating depression, opioid dependence, and alcohol dependence. Speak to your medical provider to learn more about this medication.
What should I do if I’m looking to use weight one of with these medications?
Your best option is to speak to a board-certified obesity medicine provider. Here at Paragon Health Partners, we have two amazing board-certified obesity medicine providers that would be happy to speak with you about your weight loss goals and find what treatment plan will work best for you based on your health, medical history, risk factors, and more. Be sure to give us a call at 972-203-3600 to find out more information about our medically-assisted weight loss program that is covered by most insurance plans.