That Breakthrough Weight Loss Drug? Maybe Not So Great

News & Politics

Those whom pharmaceutical advertisers convince to put all their eggs in the medical basket often live to regret their misplaced faith in the biomedical gods.

I have written extensively at PJ Media and elsewhere about semaglutide (the latest medical intervention for a lifestyle problem), sold as Wegovy and Ozempic in the United States and aggressively boosted by the corporate news media — which relies in turn on advertising from the industry to prop up its failing enterprises.

As it turns out, the long-term prognosis for individuals using it to achieve weight loss may not be as rosy as promised.

Via New York Post:

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When Eli Diaz lost 22 pounds in three months from taking the diabetes drug Wegovy for weight loss, she thought she had found a miracle fix.

She felt more confident than ever in form-fitting leggings and sleeveless tops.

Diaz, 36, a mom of three who runs a Naples, Florida, construction company with her husband, was desperately trying to get back to her pre-baby weight of 145 pounds.

She went from weighing 244 pounds in February 2022 to 222 pounds by May, taking weekly injections of Wegovy.

So far, so good, right? She’s losing weight. Everything’s falling into place.

Continuing:

Then, after three months and paying around $3,000 out of pocket for the drug, which was not covered by her insurance, her doctors discovered an unrelated thyroid issue and told her to stop.

It was then that the “miracle” drug became her worst nightmare because she put on more weight than she had lost.

This is not surprising to anyone who tries out some common sense. Rapid weight change is what happens when you recklessly jack hormone levels artificially here and there, especially one so intimately involved in metabolism as GLP-1, the activity of which semaglutide mimics.

Part of the problem with semaglutide is that the study that the industry touted to justify its fantastical claims of having developed a “miracle drug” only looked at semaglutide’s effect on weight loss over a 68-week period.

More importantly for the individual’s account above, it did not look at what happens to patients weight-wise who begin taking semaglutide for three months and then stop.

They also included “lifestyle interventions” in both the experimental and the control group, which presumably were responsible in full or in part for the weight loss experienced not just by the experimental group but the control group as well.

Via the New England Journal of Medicine (emphasis added):

In this double-blind trial, we enrolled 1961 adults with a body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of 30 or greater (≥27 in persons with ≥1 weight-related coexisting condition), who did not have diabetes, and randomly assigned them, in a 2:1 ratio, to 68 weeks of treatment with once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide (at a dose of 2.4 mg) or placebo, plus lifestyle intervention…

The mean change in body weight from baseline to week 68 was −14.9% in the semaglutide group as compared with −2.4% with placebo, for an estimated treatment difference of −12.4 percentage points.

68 weeks is a year and change. It is nothing in clinical investigations. It tells very little of a clinical story — unless you’re simply extrapolating based on the time period studied — about what happens long-term with a synthetic hormone drug like semaglutide that messes with the body’s homeostatic imperative to maintain hormone balance.

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