Sales continue to soar for all the weight loss drugs in 2023. Earlier this month, Novo Nordisk told the CBS news program 60 Minutes that the company can finally supply all dose levels of Wegovy. Social media and celebrities drive demand for a drug whose side effects are not yet completely known and cost over $1000 a month.
Demand quickly exhausted supply when Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy became the first incretin approved for weight loss in 2021. Doctors started off-label prescribing of Novo’s similar product for diabetes, Ozempic. Lilly’s new incretin Mounjaro also saw greater-than-expected demand after its diabetes approval in 2022. Consumers are telling each other about the products in a kind of viral marketing via social media, and now even some magazines are promoting the drugs.
“But are these drugs being overpromoted? According to Ed Silverman on STAT News” “a physicians group has filed a complaint with the Food and Drug Administration alleging that a recent 60 Minutes segment about the Wegovy weight-loss drug was an advertisement and demanded the agency withdraw the report from circulation”.
The other issues are unknown side effects. Some patients complain of a complete loss of appetite and taste in food flavor, while others deal with GI side effects. In addition, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who took Wegovy regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost when they went off the drug. We have no idea of the side effects of long-term use.
To make matters worse, a writer on Forbes wrote an article entitled” “The end of obesity” that doesn’t tell the whole story and omits serious risk information. He wrote, “new evidence suggests that, when paired with diet and exercise, pharmaceutical interventions can enhance weight loss in those experiencing obesity.” Uh, how many people are going to include diet and exercise? The only diet I have observed is that the drug changes the taste of food for many users. TAt heart or this controversy are two facts. First, people will do anything to lose weight, even if taking a prescription drug may cause serious side effects. Second, the FDA has not come forward to tell drug makers that there are no studies with long-term use, and finally, not enough people realize that when they stop taking the drug, they regain their weight.
The Times said, “many doctors worry that the drugs’ current popularity, fueled partly by social media, has resulted in people taking them without sufficient medical supervision — a risky move considering the possibility of rare but serious side effects like thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and kidney failure. And drugs like Ozempic can also cause less serious but still debilitating symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and racing heartbeat, as many videos on TikTok attest.
One of these drugs comes with a serious warning as well. Mounjaro packaging contains a black box warning about thyroid C-cell tumors. Like the first generation of these drugs, Mounjaro increased the risk of a rare type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma when tested on rodents.
“The Times article goes on to mention another side effect. Dr. Oren Tepper, a plastic surgeon in New York, said that it’s common for weight loss to deflate key areas of the face, leading to a more aged appearance. He said that fat is typically more friend than foe when it comes to facial aging. Weight loss may turn back your biological age but tends to turn your facial clock forward.”
I would not take ANY drug if it hadn’t been tested for long-term use, but the drug companies see a lot of money coming in and are not about to do anything to tell users the complete truth up front.