Wegovy and other weight loss-related prescription drugs must be taken throughout the patient’s life to be effective.
But medical experts tell FOX Business that an increasing number of patients trying the highly sought-after drug will quit within weeks or months because of how difficult the commitment is, the long-term side effects unknown, lack of insurance and even social stigma associated with these drugs.
Wegovy and Ozempic are the same drug – semaglutide – but Wegovy has been approved by the FDA for chronic weight management while Ozempic is approved for people with Type 2 diabetes with the side effect of weight loss. Mounjaro, the brand name for tirzepatide, has also been approved for patients with Type 2 diabetes with the side effect of weight loss. However, the drug is expected to be approved by federal health officials for weight loss later this year.
“I hear every day from patients: ‘I’ve tried Wegovy, I’ve tried Mounjaro, but I can’t go on with them,'” says North Carolina-based obesity and gastroenterologist Dr. Christopher McGowan told FOX Business. “They’re looking for additional options and guidance.”
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Dr. Daniel Maselli, an internist and associate director of research at True You Weight Loss in Atlanta, Georgia, told FOX Business that the concept of “lifetime commitment… is probably one of the most powerful influences.” more to why these are not continued.”
Maselli and McGowan are triple board certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology, and obesity medicine.
Maselli says he warns his patients in advance that these drugs need to be taken for the rest of their lives because obesity is a chronic disease and it should be combined with a healthy diet. Good diet and exercise.
Knowing this, many people still decide to test this drug. However, soon after, a part of Maselli’s patients had a different opinion. Maselli said they came to the conclusion that they didn’t want to take the drug for the rest of their lives and instead opted for non-surgical weight loss.
Some patients also believe that they will be able to lose weight by continuing the behaviors they have learned while taking the drug, such as being more active, better nutrition, and portion control.
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However, there are a few problems with this thought process. According to Maselli, most patients don’t start losing weight until at least 8 weeks because they have to increase the effective dosage.
Also, weight relapse is actually common in most patients “even those who have had great success with these drugs,” after stopping the drugs, Maselli said.
“These drugs are a treatment, but not a cure,” he added.
In some cases, patients will also stop taking the medication because they are worried about the long-term side effects. That’s why Tom Marino, a patient in North Carolina, decided to stop taking Ozempic.
Marino told FOX Business he first learned about the drug after seeing a tweet from business magnate Elon Musk. He started taking Ozempic in November 2022 after being prescribed the drug from an online pharmacy within a day. He stops in January 2023.
“One day, I was about to give myself an injection, but I stopped and said to myself, ‘Do we really know the effects of this long-term injection?’,” he said. “I just want to pay more attention to the things I can control on my own without medication.”
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Maselli understands this concern.
“It’s perfectly reasonable for patients to be cautious and skeptical when approaching new drugs. It’s true: we don’t know the effects of these drugs,” he said. “However, we do know that there are very real threats from excess body weight and obesity-related chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease. .”
Another North Carolina patient, Lucy Sams, stopped taking these drugs because of her insurance. After just four months in Mounjaro, Sams told FOX Business her insurance stopped covering it. Her bill skyrocketed from a $25 copay to $1,000 per dose.
“I felt robbed when my insurance no longer considered my drugs,” says Sams. “I’ve been converted a total of three times to alternative/equivalent weight loss supplements, but I get nervous with each switch. I worry about side effects from frequent changes like So.”
Maselli said insurance can be a significant obstacle. Patients may have problems if they change employers. But sometimes, even when a patient works with the same employer, insurance companies may decide not to cover the drug anymore.
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“It can be very frustrating because they could have found a drug that works for them, they’re tolerable and they can afford it, and all of a sudden, the rug is pulled away from them,” Maselli said. speak.
While these drugs offer “enormous help to some patients and the prospect of improved health,” McGowan argues, we cannot assume that every patient can take them forever.
“We have to be realistic that not everyone can or wants to take medication long term,” he said. This is where the personalized aspect of medicine is extremely important.”
The good news is that “many of these barriers to long-term use are solvable” although we are just beginning to understand their importance, McGowan added.