Is Ozempic the New Wonder Drug?

Ozempic has been all the rage lately. It’s become synonymous with weight loss, and lately, as a possible cure-all for addictions.

Ozempic is Danish multinational pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk A/S(CPH: NOVO-B) brand name and is now the colloquial term for the drug semaglutide. Ozempic is the version of the drug prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy, also from Novo Nordisk, is the version prescribed for weight loss. 

Developed originally for the treatment of diabetes, semaglutide copies the actions of a hormone called GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide 1. “These so-called GLP-1 analogs have several effects, including slowing stomach emptying, acting on the brain to reduce appetite and boosting the release of insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels,” according to the NewScientist

The version created for diabetes, Ozempic, was a lower dose that required twice-daily injections. Its popularity as a weight loss drug has spurred the creation of more potent formulations that only need once-weekly injections. Wegovy’s full dose for weight loss is 2.4 milligrams while Ozempic has a maximum dose of 2 milligrams for type 2 diabetes.

According to studies, Wegovy, when combined with exercise and healthy eating, can lead to about a 15% reduction in body weight over a year. But wait, there might be more.

A new article from The Atlantic claims that — based on anecdotes from the drug’s users and backed by “years of animal research that suggest drugs similar to Ozempic” — semaglutide is a promising treatment for addictions.

According to the article, patients “have reported losing interest in a whole range of addictive and compulsive behaviors: drinking, smoking, shopping, biting nails, picking at skin.” The drug, it seems, directly affects not just the pancreas but also the brain.

“GLP-1 analogs appear to actually bind to receptors on neurons in several parts of the brain, says Scott Kanoski, a neurobiologist at the University of Southern California. When Kanoski and his colleagues blocked these receptors in rodents, the first-generation drugs exenatide and liraglutide became less effective at reducing food intake—as if this had eliminated a key mode of action. The impulse to eat is just one kind of impulse, though. That these drugs work on the level of the brain—as well as the gut—suggests that they can suppress the urge for other things too.”

There isn’t much scientific data yet on how it impacts addiction in human subjects, mostly just anecdotes like in The Atlantic article. Studies focusing on how the drug affects weight loss though have largely found that 1) patients’ weight mostly plateaued in the second year, and 2) when people stop taking the drug, they generally gain back the weight they lose — one trial saw patients gain two-thirds of the weight back after a year.

What hasn’t plateaued though is Novo Nordisk’s stock value, which has jumped over 55% year over year.


Information for this story was found via NewScientist, The Atlantic, Twitter, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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