Weight-loss drugs have taken America by storm, with JP Morgan projecting that the industry will soar to a dizzying $100 billion – and that pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly stands to gain half that amount by 2030. So, while patients’ scale numbers may be dropping, dollar profits certainly aren’t, given that numerous celebrities have revealed that the secret to their dramatic weight loss is using drugs like Ozempic (semaglutide). While Ozempic isn’t FDA-approved for weight loss, another semaglutide brand got the FDA green light in 2021: Wegovy, which is cleared for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight. Other medications have been prescribed to those with weight-related conditions as well, like the Saxenda injection by Novo Nordisk, who has advised patients of limited supply for 2023 and beyond. Demand for Eli Lilly’s type-2 diabetes treatment, Mounjaro, exceeds supply as they await FDA approval.But it’s not simply about choosing one brand name over another.
Of course, when evaluating between Saxenda vs Wegovy or any other weight loss injections, it’s essential to understand what they do. While they may seem like versions of the same thing, their results (and your access to them) can vary wildly. That’s because while all three medications belong to a group of drugs called incretin mimetics, only Saxenda and Wegovy are GLP-1 agonists. That means they copy the action of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 to balance blood glucose. Meanwhile, Mounjaro is a dual agonist; it mimics not just GLP-1 but also gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP), responsible for stimulating insulin secretion. GIPs and GLP-1 agonists are hormones that are released to signal fullness and start to slow down digestion. They keep you full for longer, minimize thoughts of food and cravings, and reduce post-meal sugar spikes in the blood.While only your doctor can determine which drug is right for you, learning about the three is worthwhile for making informed health decisions.
Saxenda, also known as liraglutide, was the first to receive FDA approval for obesity treatment in 2014, and it’s typically administered daily at a low dose that gradually increases over time. As a GLP-1 agonist, it stimulates the brain’s satiety center to signal fullness to your body and slow down digestion. A study published in the journal Obesity has reported that, of 207 adults who previously underwent bariatric surgery and regained 40% of the weight they lost, those taking Saxenda succeeded in losing about 9% of that weight.
Wegovy’s weight management abilities are so sought-after that, in Europe, its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, has dethroned luxury conglomerate LVMH as the continent’s most valuable firm. Its rise to household name status no doubt began when Elon Musk attributed his 30-pound weight loss to the drug. And it’s not just Musk – in one two-year study, patients treated with Wegovy achieved a 15.2% reduction in body weight after 104 weeks, compared to just 2.6% for those who received a placebo.
Also known as tirzepatide, Mounjaro only recently received FDA approval for treating type 2 diabetes in 2022. Still, some physicians have resorted to prescribing it off-label for treating obesity. Like Wegovy, it’s given as a weekly injection. According to Eli Lilly, the injectable has helped people who are overweight or obese or have type 2 diabetes lose up to 16% of their body weight – over 34 pounds – in 17 months.Various factors are at play regarding which medication might be prescribed to you. Aside from your doctor’s recommendation, individual insurance plans may differ in terms of which medications they cover or if they cover anti-obesity medicines at all. Given that these medications are seeing sky-high demand, accessibility is another issue. Your doctor must also determine whether you have contraindications or underlying medical conditions that can interfere with these drugs.
Finally, it will come down to your willingness not only to take such medications but also to improve your lifestyle and mindset so you can enjoy your journey, as we discussed in our previous article about pleasure as the key to weight loss. This is where a holistic program will come in handy – centered around medication but heavily supported by diet, physical activity, and critical mindset changes to keep you on the right track.
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