It’s been called a revolutionary new drug to aid type II diabetes sufferers who are having trouble losing weight, but those who are needing it most in the UK might have to start waiting for doses. Ozempic, known also as semaglutide, has become the “weight loss supplement” du jour for the rich and famous, with Elon Musk even recognizing the drug as a source for his slim figure earlier this year.
The drug, readily available in the UK since 2019 after receiving European approval in February 2018 and was approved in the US back in 2017, mimics a hormone that lowers post-meal blood glucose levels, reducing blood glucose by stimulating insulin, inhibiting glucagon and slowing down digestion.
But, as Sky News reported, it’s now become the latest fad in terms of weight loss for those who are not afflicted with type II diabetes - with even Kim Kardashian rumoured to have used the once-a-week injection to keep her figure. US media have called it Tinseltown’s "worst kept secret" for drastic weight loss, as social media platforms like TikTok have been flooded with testimonials regarding the drug.
However, what isn’t divulged on social media is the raft of side effects the drug can cause. These include gallstones, changes in vision, kidney problems and allergic reactions. In some extreme cases, use of semaglutide has also been linked to thyroid cancer and pancreatitis - though some of these side effects are also linked with another diabetes drug, empagliflozin.
The main criticism regarding the drug stems from its rapid response to the human body, causing mild to severe nausea when thinking about food. “The biggest complaint I get is patients going to their favourite restaurant, and saying ‘I had two bites of a steak and I can’t eat it, I feel sick’," Dr Daniel Ghiyam told Sky News.
Eating disorder charities believe the use of Ozempic will only cause more problems with those struggling with bulimia and anorexia, reinforcing the ideas of bingeing and purging being a perfectly safe practice. While in the UK use of the injection can only be undertaken through official NHS channels when necessary, in the United States the trend has left many type II diabetes sufferers awaiting their next dose.