“Side effect” is a tricky term. For instance, a drawback of traditional appetite suppressants is that they probably exacerbate high blood pressure, or at the very least, do nothing to lower it. This is a negative side effect. On the other hand, a drug can have a side effect that is considered positive.
Side effects lead to what is called “off-label” use, until the point when the establishment does enough research to deem a drug officially suitable to be prescribed for whatever secondary use it is good for. As we have seen, the class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists, used mainly to treat diabetes and other endocrine disorders, provide not only insulin sensitivity but appetite control. They imitate a peptide produced in the human gut that helps to regulate glucose in the system, and also contributes to a feeling of fullness. This in turn facilitates weight loss for some people.
Side effects, plural
Now that some drugs of this type have been approved to treat obesity, weight loss is no longer a side effect, but their primary purpose. Unfortunately, they still have other side effects, some of which are merely annoying, and may diminish with continued use as the body acclimates to the drug. Other side effects are more serious and even debilitating. In deciding whether or not to get involved with this type of pharmaceutical, several factors must be considered.
For instance, one of the recently approved drugs of this kind, whose generic name is semaglutide, is said to enable adolescents to reduce their BMI, or body mass index, by about 16%, which is a lot. But under any circumstances, rapid weight loss alone can stir up metabolic issues, hormone imbalance, and a malfunctioning gall bladder. In addition, experts have warned that the newer drugs can cause kidney problems, vision changes, and increased risk for rare forms of thyroid tumors.
As of February 2023, another such drug is on the way, having been set on the approval fast track by the Food and Drug Administration. Tirzepatide is another generic semaglutide whose brand name (if approval is granted) has not yet been chosen. Like its brothers, it works by slowing the passage of food through the digestive track, which allows the patient to feel sufficiently fed on a smaller amount of food.
The previous record of a semaglutide, causing an average weight loss of 16%, has been deemed impressive, but the newest contender beats that. A phase 3 trial chalked up weight loss as high as 20% of the person’s starting body weight, which in some cases translated into the loss of as much as 80 pounds.
There had already been concern over a version of semaglutide often prescribed to diabetes patients under the brand name Ozempic. Then, along came a jacked-up version of this injectable, approved by the FDA for long-term weight loss. When prescribed for that purpose it is branded Wegovy, about which we will have more to say.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “The upsides and downsides of blockbuster weight loss drugs,” Web.musc.edu, 02/01/23
Source: “’Ozempic face?’ Dr. Siegel warns of popular diabetes drug’s bizarre side effect,” FoxNews.com, 01/29/23
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