Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a medication that you took once a week and you would lose 30 pounds over a year?
Well, actually, we do have one – maybe.
Wegovy® is such a medication. On June 4, the FDA approved its use for long-term weight loss. The generic name is semaglutide. Semaglutide was invented for the treatment of diabetes. But an incidental observation during the testing phase was that some participants in the study lost weight. So, studies were done to determine if it could be marketed as a weight loss product.
The studies show that you can lose on the order of 5-10% of your base weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you stand to lose 10-20 pounds over a year or so. The weight you lose will stay off IF you have by that time adopted and maintained a diet in which the ingestion of refined carbs and sugar in all its forms is at its lowest. This means either a LOW-CARB, HEALTHY FAT diet, a PLANT-BASED diet, a MEDITERRANEAN diet, or a HIGH-PROTEIN diet.
So, unlike many other prescription medications, the success of this medication hinges on using it in conjunction with eating anti-fat forming food, or foods that do not increase glucose or insulin in large amounts in your body.
Who qualifies to take it? Anyone with a BMI over 30, or a BMI over 27 with high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. Other disqualifiers are disorders of the kidney, liver, thyroid, pancreas, and gallbladder, eye problems like retinopathy, stomach disorders, depression, suicidal thoughts, mental health issues, breastfeeding, pregnancy, tachycardia, GERD, or constipation.
The way you take Wegovy is as follows: To start, the lowest dose fixed-dose injection is administered under the skin, in the abdomen or thigh, once a week. Then every 4 weeks the dose is slightly increased. This is to avoid the primary side-effects of abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea. The dose is increased over 5 months to the therapeutic/maximum weekly dose of 2.4 mg.
How much does it cost? The upfront, in your face, no make-up price is $1,400/month, for 4 fixed-dose syringes. Currently, with a GoodRx coupon, you can get it cheap at Winn-Dixie in the neighborhood of $1,336. Some insurance companies might cover much of it. Paying cash, or with an insurance card, saves you $200. And Novo Nordisk, on their website, says if you qualify per their standards, you might only pay as little as $25/month, but only after you wallow around in the company’s website, jumping through some digital hoops.
Ok, if you haven’t already done the math. Taking it for 15 months at $1,400/month, comes to $21,000 outlay. If you are able to get it somehow, with or without insurance, for something less, say maybe $300/month, this comes to $4,500 outlay. If this is the course you take, and your BMI is well over 30, and you qualify, as an alternative you may want to consider bariatric surgery. I’ve had three patients, all women who, because of insurance and financial limitations, opted to have their bariatric surgery done in Tijuana, Mexico, in the range of $5,500 - $7,000. They were all happy with their experience and all are now 1-3 years post op and are doing well without complications. Just saying.
How long can you take it? I can’t find anything on the safety of taking the Wegovy beyond 68 weeks. In the case of the use of semaglutide in diabetes, the presumption is for years. But Wegovy is indicated for non-diabetics, and in higher doses. I think the long-term effects with Wegovy are unknown.
Supplied: As of this writing, I called several pharmacies, and no one has it in stock. Interesting. The company itself apologizes on its website for lack of supplies, we are told, because of its demand. This may be true. Then again, as past history has taught, it may be the company’s strategy to gin up interest and demand, to buttress the high price, to bring more profits. Maybe not. Or the company may want practitioners to gravitate toward its other brands of semaglutide, Ozempic, which does not have an indication for weight loss. Who knows?
Now you know why earlier I cautiously qualified this medication with a “maybe”.
If you qualify and decide to try Wegovy, know that without changing your current way of eating, and adopting a LOW-CARB, HEALTHY FAT diet, that you will almost certainly regain the weight you lose. If you are unable to make the dietary changes now, you will most likely be unable to make the changes weeks, months, or a year from now – at least that’s been my professional observation.
Lastly, a comprehensive review in 2013 determined there are four diets that provide superior control over blood glucose, insulin toxicity, and weight loss. They are LOW-CARB DIET, LOW GLYCEMIC-INDEX DIET (Ref. “The Belly Fat Cure” by Jorge Cruise), MEDITERRANEAN DIET, and HIGH-PROTEIN diet. The LOW-CARB diet is the most effective in reducing body weight, waist size, and blood glucose. I suggest you give these a shot first, and maybe save more than a few bucks down the road, all the while becoming the new you.
When it comes to your overall health – be smart.