February 20, 2024

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It took 12 years for Allison Tuckman to get an correct analysis of polycystic ovary syndrome, then an additional 10 to find a treatment to assistance preserve her most serious signs in verify. Now that she’s finally found a drug that is effective, the 44-yr-old from Manalapan, New Jersey, claims there is no heading back. “I’ll be using it ‘till the finish of time,” she claimed. 

That medicine takes place to be semaglutide, the exact drug in superior demand from customers mainly for its outcomes on bodyweight reduction. It’s permitted less than the title Ozempic for Style 2 diabetes and less than the title Wegovy for fat loss. Semaglutide falls into a course of prescription drugs identified as GLP-1 agonists, which also involves the diabetes prescription drugs Mounjaro and Victoza, amongst many others. 

Considering the fact that the drugs flooded the scene, there have been stories of other possible takes advantage of for them, to handle problems ranging from PCOS to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, addiction, alcoholic beverages use dysfunction, liver condition and probably most cancers. 

But proving they work for each individual unique ailment indicates expending several years, and a great volume of assets, to conduct meticulous laboratory analysis and huge scientific trials. It also calls for access to a reputable supply of these medicines, which is far from a presented amid common shortages. 

“Unfortunately, because of the scarcity of offer, Novo Nordisk is centered on producing the drugs for clinical treatment and not for study scientific studies,” reported Dr. Lorezo Leggio, the clinical director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the Countrywide Institutes of Health, who has been studying these medicines as a probable procedure for habit and liquor use disorder. 

These constraints have meant the evidence needed to get the Food and Drug Administration, coverage companies and even the pharmaceutical businesses on board with these new uses has lagged behind the private experiences of folks like Tuckman who say they’ve noticed it firsthand: the medicines perform. 

“These anecdotes of individuals reporting the effective results of semaglutide are quite welcome, but they are not the conclusion of the tale,” Leggio mentioned. “Medication improvement wants rigorous science with gold-regular techniques these as medical trials.”

Does Ozempic get the job done for PCOS?

While GLP-1 agonists aren’t Food and drug administration-approved to take care of polycystic ovary syndrome, Tuckman has been recommended Ozempic off-label for three several years. In excess of that time, Tuckman explained the drug has helped handle the far more critical PCOS problems, including her body’s excess insulin production, high blood tension and substantial cholesterol. Given that taking Ozempic, her blood sugar has stabilized and she’s felt considerably less of the debilitating exhaustion that utilized to make lifting her head from her pillow a Herculean endeavor.

An estimated 5 million ladies in the U.S. have PCOS, a poorly comprehended and normally misdiagnosed problem that can bring about gals to create excess testosterone. This can suggest painful, heavy or irregular intervals, infertility, extra facial and body

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For the two months Carey Yazeed took Ozempic, the drug worked as intended. Yazeed has type 2 diabetes, and the weekly injection lowered her blood sugar levels. But it also brought side effects she considered unbearable, including vomiting, fatigue, headaches and stomach cramps.

Five weeks into taking the medication, Yazeed said, she found herself unable to move off the bathroom floor.

“I had vomited so much that I didn’t have the energy to get up and I was basically lying in it,” she said. “I couldn’t even raise my head to vomit in the commode. It was so bad.”

Dr. Carey Yazeed.
Carey Yazeed.Courtesy Carey Yazeed.

The severe effects Yazeed faced aren’t common, but people’s experiences taking Ozempic and its sister drug, Wegovy, can vary widely — from substantial weight loss and minimal discomfort on one end of the spectrum to extreme effects on the other.

NBC News spoke to 10 people about their experiences taking these blockbuster drugs, both of which are forms of semaglutide. They’re designed to mimic a hormone that signals to the brain when a person is full and promotes the release of insulin, a hormone that stops blood sugar from getting too high. In turn, the medications can lower blood sugar levels and suppress appetites.

They have soared in popularity over the last year, in part from social media attention and billionaires like Elon Musk touting the drugs’ weight loss effects.

Prescriptions for Ozempic tripled from 2021 to 2022, according to data from the prescription drug discount company SingleCare, which has more than 5 million members. Last year, high demand and global supply constraints gave rise to shortages of the medications. The FDA reported a Wegovy shortage in March 2022, followed by an Ozempic shortage in August.

Several people interviewed said the benefits they got from the drugs outweighed the side effects.

“It just feels lighter moving around. My clothes fit so much better and more comfortably,” said Stacey Bollinger, an account director in Maryland, who reported losing 52 pounds since starting Wegovy. “Something as simple as bending over to tie my shoe is so much easier.”

Stacey Bollinger.
Stacey Bollinger.Courtesy Stacey Bollinger

Some people said they felt fine on the medications. But Yazeed and a couple of others described side effects that forced them to stop taking the drugs or question whether they could stay on them long term.

Obesity medicine experts who prescribe Ozempic and Wegovy said the drugs can transform patients’ lives and health. The weight loss effects can enable patients to do activities they couldn’t do previously, like chase after grandchildren or find clothes that fit at mainstream stores. Semaglutide can also address health issues linked to obesity and diabetes, such as an elevated risk of heart attacks or stroke.

“By treating obesity, you’re effectively potentially treating over 200 other obesity-related or weight-related diseases,” said Dr. Ania Jastreboff, an associate professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. Jastreboff serves on the scientific advisory board of Novo Nordisk, which makes Ozempic and Wegovy.

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