Wegovy Benefits And Side Effects: What You Need To Know
Wegovy, generic brand semaglutide, is the newest U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication for weight management. Wegovy was clinically tested for safety and effectiveness in an initial series of four clinical trials called the Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity (STEP). These clinical trials showed that participants using 2.4 mg of semaglutide subcutaneous injections once per week lost between 15% and 20% of their body weight. The FDA approved Wegovy in June 2021 after Novo Nordisk demonstrated that Wegovy (semaglutide) is a safe and effective medication for chronic weight management.
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How Does Semaglutide (Wegovy) Work?
Semaglutide is in a drug class called incretin mimetics. It works like the incretin hormone, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). Incretins are hormones that are released by cells in the gastrointestinal tract (gut). They stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin and lower blood sugar.
GLP-1s also act on the brain to modulate your appetite and reduce hunger, which can help you lose weight. Wegovy and other GLP-1 medications bind to receptors on stomach cells, slowing stomach emptying, which makes you feel full longer. Decreased hunger and slower stomach emptying make it easier to lose weight.
Wegovy is to be used with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for long-term weight management. It is intended for use in adults with an initial body mass index (BMI) of
• 30 kg/m2 or greater (obesity) or
• 27 kg/m2 or greater (overweight) with at least one weight-related medical condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or abnormal blood lipids.
Benefits Of Semaglutide
The biggest benefit of semaglutide is that it is an effective medication for weight management. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Draft Guidance requires that medications for weight management must show a weight loss of over 5% or greater than a placebo. In clinical trials, participants taking semaglutide had an average weight loss of 10% to 16% of their starting body weight.
Wegovy is administered once a week via a subcutaneous injection. A subcutaneous injection is one in which a small needle is used to inject the medication just under the skin’s surface.
Another benefit is that Wegovy is designed to be taken long-term. Participants were tracked for side effects and weight loss in the Wegovy STEP clinical trials for 68 weeks. Follow-up trials have followed participants for up to two years.
The PIONEER 6 clinical trials compared the effectiveness of semaglutide with placebo, sitagliptin, and liraglutide. Semaglutide was superior in both weight loss and blood sugar reduction. Semaglutide is unique because it is an oral or subcutaneous injectable medication that is taken once weekly. In clinical trials, it not only lowered blood glucose levels but also helped trial participants lose weight.
Side Effects Of Wegovy (Semaglutide)
All medications have side effects. The most common side effects of all GLP-1 agonists are gastrointestinal. These side effects generally improve as your body adapts to taking Wegovy. However, it is important to never take another medication containing semaglutide or another GLP-1 agonist as long as you take Wegovy (semaglutide). GLP-1 agonists lower your blood sugar. Taking more than the prescribed dose or taking more than one GLP-1 agonist simultaneously can cause dangerously low blood sugar and increase medication side effects.
Wegovy (semaglutide), Ozempic (semaglutide), and Rybelsus (semaglutide) are all semaglutide medications that are used for different medical indications and may have different recommended dosages.
Ozempic and Rybelsus are both used to treat type 2 diabetes. Wegovy is used for weight management. Rybelsus is an oral tablet. Wegovy and Ozempic are both injectables, but the dose for Wegovy is much higher.
Common Side Effects
More common side effects associated with Wegovy (semaglutide) use (and their percentages in clinical trials) include:
- Nausea (44%)
- Diarrhea (30%)
- Vomiting (24%)
- Constipation (24%)
- Stomach pain (20%)
- Headache (14%)
- Fatigue (11%)
- Heartburn (9%)
- Dizziness (8%)
- Stomach bloating (7%)
- Burping/flatulence (7%)
- Low blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes (6%)
- Gas (6%)
- Gastroenteritis (6%)
- Acid reflux (5%)
- Stomach irritation (4%)
- Viral gastroenteritis (4%)
- Hair loss (3%)
In the STEPS clinical trials, 5.8% of patients taking Wegovy and 11.6% of patients taking a placebo discontinued treatment due to side effects.
Serious Side Effects
More serious side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:
- allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
- vision changes
- fast heartbeat
- gallbladder problems
- low blood sugar
- lump or swelling on the neck
- suicidal thoughts, depression
- trouble breathing
- trouble swallowing
Contraindications To Using Wegovy (Semaglutide)
Wegovy (semaglutide) should not be taken by people with:
- A personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma
- Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2
- Known hypersensitivity to semaglutide or any of the medication components
Wegovy (Semaglutide) Warnings
Wegovy (semaglutide) can cause serious health problems, especially in people who may be at higher risk for these conditions.
- Thyroid C-cell tumors: animal studies showed that an increased dose of semaglutide or a longer treatment period increased the risk of thyroid cancer in rats. It is unclear whether people would have a similar risk. Tell your doctor if you notice a lump in your neck, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, or shortness of breath.
- Pancreatitis: discontinue Wegovy and call your doctor if you develop stomach pain that radiates to your back and may be accompanied by fever, nausea, or vomiting.
- Gallbladder disease: gallstones and gallbladder disease can cause upper abdominal pain and yellowing of the skin or eyes.
- Hypoglycemia: low blood sugar can cause irritability, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, sweating, hunger, headache, or loss of consciousness.
- Kidney injury: trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine you pass may be signs of kidney injury.
- Diabetic retinopathy in people with type 2 diabetes: contact your doctor if you notice changes in your vision.
People who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the next two months should not take Wegovy (semaglutide).
Wegovy (semaglutide) is an FDA-approved medication for chronic weight management. Clinical trials have demonstrated its safety and effectiveness. However, like all medications, it has side effects and is not right for every person.
If you have a BMI of 27 or higher and have health problems that are made worse by being overweight, talk to the doctors at Invigor Medical to find out if semaglutide and a low-calorie diet and exercise plan can help you lose weight.
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While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice