Weight-Loss Drugs, Safety, and the Brain

People might tend to think, well, if the FDA approves something, then it must be okay. As an antidote to that delusion, consider the story of phentermine.

Now, back to the category of synthetic hormones, which several posts here have explored. On the safety question, they are certainly unsafe for diabetics, but not in a way that is obvious to the casual observer. But someone with both diabetes and obesity knows that they might not be able to get the meds on which their very lives depend. The supplies of drugs like Wegovy are depleted, bought up by people who only have obesity.

Check this out:

Novo Nordisk has said it will temporarily reduce production of the lower starting doses of its weight-loss drug Wegovy, as demand for the therapy continues to challenge its ability to supply the market.

The Danish drugmaker said the measure — which effectively restricts new starts on the therapy — is necessary to make sure it has sufficient capacity for the active ingredient semaglutide to safeguard availability for patients already taking the GLP-1 agonist for obesity and/or type 2 diabetes.

Consider another aspect of safety. For a patient who has to self-inject on a daily or weekly basis, one of the important things to know is how to dispose of the gear. The pen is a high-tech syringe, holding several doses. The needle is to be changed each time, and both are to be disposed of in…

[…] an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container […] made of heavy-duty plastic with a puncture-resistant lid, and it is upright, stable, leak resistant, and properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste.

If the manufacturers and stockholders of the weight-loss drug corporations have their way, many more households will soon include a sharps disposal container as part of the standard equipment. Is this a paranoid fantasy? How difficult would it be for hardcore addicts to get hold of these used implements? Granted, neither piece is exactly like the traditional hypodermic syringe and needle, but if anyone can improvise with spare parts and ingenuity, it is a person who needs a fix.

From an anonymous writer in an online forum:

Drug users do use insulin syringes to shoot with… Any size syringe can be gerry-rigged. Even eyedroppers… One use insulin syringes are ideal for i/v use… They’re cheap (10 syringes for 2–5$, at least where I am), easy to get since there are pharmacies everywhere, and easy to use…

A stray thought

In an article about Mounjaro, journalist Tara Haelle quoted two doctors, one being endocrinologist Robert Kushner of Chicago’s Feinberg School of Medicine:

Both GLP-1 and GIP […] circulate in the brain and reduce appetite by affecting how people experience hunger or fullness or contentment between meals, thoughts of food, and cravings for food…

The other is weight management physician Ali Zentner, who is also the medical director of Vancouver’s Revolution Medical Clinic:

Obesity is an inappropriate starvation response. For whatever reason, the brain thinks it’s starving and does what it should do in the presence of famine…

Since the brain is so heavily involved, it would be interesting to look up what results have been obtained with hypnotism, which has had some notable successes in getting people off cigarettes.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Secret, Scary Way Your Friends Are Losing Weight,” Cosmopolitan.com, 02/12/19
Source: “Novo Nordisk taps brakes on Wegovy as demand soars,” Pharmaphorum.com, 05/05/23
Source: “How to use Mounjaro,” undated
Source: “Are insulin syringes normally used by drug addicts?,” Quora.com, undated
Source: “Is Mounjaro the weight-loss drug we’ve been waiting for?,” NationalGeographic.com, 05/02/23
Image by Fredrik Rubensson/CC BY-SA 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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