One of the fastest-moving news stories of the past months has been explosive growth in the release of, and the voracious market for, weight-loss medications based on semaglutide and other GLP-1 agonists.
Early in 2021, the “game-changer” chatter had already started, after The New England Journal of Medicine published news of semaglutide as an anti-obesity pharmaceutical. Phrases like “new era” and “huge potential” were being thrown around, and turned out to be quite prophetic.
Also prophetic: “Semaglutide is likely to be expensive,” as journalist Gina Kolata noted in The New York Times. (The injection “pens,” whether multiple-use or single-use, surely represent a significant proportion of the production cost.) And even then, cautious voices were saying things like,
A high-dose regimen of the drug has not been studied long enough to know if it has serious long-term consequences. And it is expected that patients would have to take it for a lifetime to prevent the weight loss from coming back.
In the spring of this year, some experts curbed their enthusiasm with phrases like “efficacy… within confined parameters,” “downside that some overweight individuals may not be inclined to acknowledge,” and “significant health hazards, such as pancreatitis and thyroid cancer.” Since then, both ecstatic endorsements and dire predictions just keep piling up.
At the top of the worry list for some is the prospect of children getting daily or weekly injections, while others hold that, in the name of preventing childhood obesity, “anything is justifiable.” By “anything,” they presumably mean acquainting and providing minors with injectable drugs which, face it, will happen anyway if the kids get type 2 diabetes.
A piece by Judith Wood was subtitled, “We should do the humane thing for our children, rather than question the ethics of weight-loss injections.” Having grabbed the audience’s attention — “What? Abandon ethics?” — the journalist justified the extreme stand by noting that the obesity crisis is “no longer looming, it has entered that state where it has well and truly arrived.”
And the United Kingdom may have reached the point where its citizens must face unpalatable facts and consider doing even “the unthinkable.” One argument is that due to the yearly cost of obesity-related illnesses, the United Kingdom is bound to run out of money:
Two in three adults in the UK are overweight or obese; if they weren’t, the NHS could save almost £14 billion… Maybe we can’t save those struggling with the effects of excess weight. But we can sure as hell try and save the next generation.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “‘A Game Changer’: Drug Brings Weight Loss in Patients With Obesity,” NYTimes.com, 02/10/21
Source: “Mounjaro Weight Loss,” Benzinga.com, 05/06/23
Source: “David Heathcote: Childhood obesity. Is there a better solution than injecting our children?,” ConservativeHome.com, 05/12/23
Source: “Anything is justifiable to avoid childhood obesity in Britain,” Telegraph.co.uk, 05/19/23
Image by Rob Lee/CC BY-ND 2.0