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  • Ozempic is a medication containing Semaglutide primarily designed for treating type 2 diabetes.
  • Ozempic works by imitating the hormone GLP-1, which helps regulate blood sugar and can lead to weight loss.
  • While Ozempic has become popular for its weight loss potential, its primary purpose remains the treatment of diabetes, and one should carefully consider its use for other purposes.

1.3 billion views and counting on TikTok Singapore – this is the buzz #Ozempic has generated. Ozempic’s popularity exploded worldwide when Hollywood celebrities added Ozempic as their latest must-have weight loss accessory. Closer to home, Ozempic is approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) in Singapore only for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Is Ozempic a medication for weight loss or diabetes? Sire explores its controversy and its uses in Singapore.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes share an ill-fated relationship. Excess body fat accumulation often leads to insulin resistance, raising blood sugar levels. Obesity increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Having type 2 diabetes can exacerbate obesity. Common medications used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes like insulin injections may cause weight gain. A vicious cycle can develop when both conditions are not managed carefully.

A medication ideal for the treatment of type 2 diabetes is one that is safe and effective AND can produce weight loss. This is where Ozempic comes into the picture.

Source: Arif Qazi / Insider

Unveiling the Ozempic Phenomenon

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a medication that is developed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The active ingredient in Ozempic is Semaglutide.

How does Ozempic Work?

Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, works by imitating a hormone in the gastrointestinal system that regulates blood sugar. This hormone is called the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).

GLP-1 prompts the pancreas to release insulin, reducing blood sugar levels in the body. As Ozempic works through GLP-1, it falls under a class of medications known as the GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Ozempic Singapore: A Controversial Weight Loss Promise?

The Ozempic Breakthrough

Ozempic is the first brand of Semaglutide developed by the team of researchers at Novo Nordisk. It received a positive 16-0 unanimous approval by the FDA Advisory Committee in 2017.

Novo Nordisk introduced the world’s first insulin in 1923 and has a long history of innovation in the field of diabetes care. Here we explain why the development of Ozempic is a significant one.

Ozempic is proven to lower blood sugar levels

Ozempic has shown remarkable effectiveness in lowering blood sugar levels, often achieving better glucose control than other diabetes medications. This can help reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.

Read why men are more prone to complications arising from diabetes.

Clinical trials have shown that Ozempic can significantly lower HbA1c levels by 1.4–2.1%. HbA1c is a key marker of long-term blood sugar control. Lower HbA1c levels are associated with a reduced risk of diabetes-related complications.

Ozempic reduces cardiovascular risks

People with diabetes are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes.

Ozempic is found to significantly reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Ozempic may help you lose some weight

Unlike insulin, Ozempic can promote significant weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes. In clinical trials, it was found that patients with type 2 diabetes taking Ozempic lost up to 6.4 kg. This is groundbreaking as diabetes medications like insulin are known to promote weight gain.

Ozempic is a once-weekly dosage

Ozempic is administered once a week through a subcutaneous injection. Its extended-release formula allows for less frequent dosing compared to other medications for diabetes. This convenience can improve medication adherence and overall quality of life for patients.

The Controversy Surrounding Ozempic

The story begins with Wegovy – a medication developed by the same company behind Ozempic, Novo Nordisk. Wegovy contains the exact same active ingredient as Ozempic: Semaglutide.

Wegovy was approved by the US FDA for chronic weight management in 2021. This is the first new drug approved for weight loss since 2014.

Since its approval in 2021, demand for Wegovy surged. Prominent figures such as Elon Musk admitted using Wegovy to help him lose weight, fueling the buzz around Wegovy.

Soaring demand for Wegovy resulted in shortage of the medication as Novo Nordisk struggles to scale up its production.

Demand for Ozempic increased as doctors started prescribing them “off-label” for weight loss to meet the Wegovy shortage.

Off-label Use of Ozempic

Off-label prescribing involves using a medication for a medical condition not sanctioned by regulatory authorities. The US FDA has exclusively approved Ozempic for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and it is not sanctioned for weight management.

In this case, prescribing Ozempic “off-label” refers to using Ozempic for weight loss in non-diabetic patients.

Ozempic is Not Designed for Weight Loss

Ozempic is not a weight loss medication. Although it contains the same active ingredient as Wegovy at a similar dose, it was not designed for weight loss.

Ozempic was studied in patients with type 2 diabetes to improve blood sugar. While many people in clinical trials lost weight, some did gain weight as well.

Prescribing Ozempic “off-label” for weight loss may make sense, however weight loss is seen only with higher doses of Semaglutide used in Wegovy.

As Wegovy became unavailable, doctors turned to prescribing Ozempic “off-label” instead. This resulted in a shortage in Ozempic as well.

Unfortunately, this deprived diabetic users who needed Ozempic for blood sugar control.

In Singapore, sellers seeking to capitalise on the overseas popularity of Ozempic and Wegovy have listed their products on our local e-commerce platforms.

The HSA has removed four unauthorised online sale listings of Ozempic and Wegovy since the start of 2023.

Ozempic and Wegovy can only be supplied upon a valid doctor’s prescription. These two contain the potent active ingredient – Semaglutide – which could cause adverse effects when taken without medical supervision.

Ozempic and Wegovy are Not Miracle Drugs

While Ozempic and Wegovy are effective in managing type 2 diabetes and obesity respectively, they do not provide a cure.

They work by helping to control blood sugar levels, reduce appetite and promote weight loss. However, they do not completely eliminate the underlying causes of these conditions.

Ozempic and Wegovy are prescribed alongside lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise. In clinical studies, they are found to be most effective when used in combination with a healthy lifestyle.

Without these lifestyle changes, the benefits of these medications may be limited, and patients may not achieve the desired outcome.

Research has also shown that weight regain can be expected after discontinuation of Wegovy.

Furthermore, the long-term safety of Ozempic and Wegovy have not been fully established as the majority of clinical trials are less than four years in duration.

A Closer Look at Ozempic

While Ozempic has emerged as a groundbreaking solution for type 2 diabetes, here we highlight some of its limitations. Always discuss your concerns with your doctors when considering Ozempic.

Ozempic For Weight Loss: Does It Work?

Ozempic For Weight Loss: Does It Work / Forbes Health

How does Ozempic help me lose weight?

The weight loss potential of Ozempic lies in its ability to regulate appetite. Besides regulating blood sugar levels, Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, can reduce appetite.

Semaglutide can promote feelings of fullness, reduces hunger and slows down the emptying of the stomach through the GLP-1 hormone. These actions lead to reduced calorie intake, making it easier for individuals to stick to a calorie deficit diet. This is a fundamental aspect of weight loss.

It is also important to note that not all type 2 diabetic patients lost weight with Ozempic in clinical studies. While many people in clinical trials lost weight, some did gain weight as well. Ozempic is not designed for weight loss.

What are the common side effects of Ozempic?

Like any medication, Ozempic is not without its side effects. The most common potential side effects of Ozempic include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain.

These side effects are usually mild to moderate and go away on their own after a few days or weeks.

To minimize the risk of these side effects, it is advisable to commence Ozempic at a low dose and then gradually increase the dosage over time. Do not make adjustments to the medication independently unless directed by your doctor.

Always speak to your doctor about any side effect that bothers you or does not go away.

Are there any serious side effects of Ozempic?

In rare cases, Ozempic may cause more serious side effects such as pancreatitis, gallbladder problems, kidney problems and allergic reactions.

It is important to speak with your doctor right away if you experience severe abdominal pain, persistent nausea or vomiting, or difficulty urinating.

Long-term Safety Debate of Semaglutide

The long-term safety of Semaglutide in Ozempic has not been fully established as the majority of clinical trials are less than four years in duration. So far, two major safety concerns have been highlighted.

Risk of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid C-cell tumours were observed to have developed during animal studies with Semaglutide in the early stages of drug development.

It is currently unknown whether Semaglutide causes thyroid C-cell tumours in humans. However, human cases of thyroid cancer have been reported with Liraglutide, another GLP-1 receptor agonist.

Ozempic should not be taken by people with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).

If you have a history of these conditions, or if you experience any symptoms of thyroid cancer such as a lump or swelling in the neck, difficulty swallowing, or hoarseness, you should inform your healthcare provider immediately.

Mental Health Effects

Overseas regulatory authorities have received emerging reports on suicidal and self-harm behaviour with the use of Semaglutide
While there have been no local reports received by the HSA, a safety review is currently ongoing to assess this potential safety concern.

How to Obtain Ozempic in Singapore

Is Ozempic available in Singapore?

Yes! Ozempic has been approved by the HSA Singapore in April 2021 for the treatment of type 2 diabetes as an adjunct to diet and exercise.
It is available in Singapore in three different dosages 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg and 1 mg/dose solution for injection in a pre-filled pen.

Is Ozempic available over-the-counter?

No. In Singapore, Ozempic is a prescription medication.

How much does Ozempic cost in Singapore?

Ozempic costs between SGD 300-500 for a month’s worth of supply. The cost is dependent on the dosage and where it is prescribed.

Is Ozempic Worth Considering for Singaporeans?

About one in every nine Singaporeans are affected by diabetes. Although Ozempic is effective for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, the decision to start Ozempic should not be taken lightly.

At Sire Singapore, we stay on top of current health news and trends.

Is Ozempic Worth Considering for Singaporeans?

Consultation with Healthcare Professionals

Before considering Ozempic for type 2 diabetes, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional. They can assess your individual health needs, discuss potential risks, and explore alternative strategies that may be more suitable for your specific circumstances.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Ozempic in Singapore

The decision to use Ozempic should be based on a careful consideration of its pros and cons. It may be a viable option for those struggling with both diabetes and obesity, as it can address both issues simultaneously.

If you are considering other Semaglutide-containing medications for your diabetes, read about the use of Rybelsus in Singapore.

Individuals without diabetes should approach Ozempic with caution, weighing its potential benefits against the risk of side effects.If you are considering Ozempic specifically for weight loss, speak to your doctors as well.

The Importance of a Holistic Approach

Diabetes is a multifaceted journey, and while medications like Ozempic can offer support, they are most effective when combined with a comprehensive approach that includes a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Always speak to your doctor who can support your every health goal.

Summary

In conclusion, Ozempic is a remarkable solution for individuals living with diabetes in Singapore. With its ability to improve blood sugar control, aid in weight management, provide cardiovascular benefits, and offer user-friendly administration, it has become a beacon of hope in the battle against diabetes.

Singaporeans living with diabetes who aspire to shed extra pounds should engage in open discussions with healthcare professionals who can provide personalised guidance. Remember, weight loss is not just about shedding pounds but also about embracing a healthier and happier life.

Updated 29th January, 2023 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can Ozempic be used with other diabetes medications?

Yes, Ozempic can be used with other medications for type 2 diabetes such as metformin or insulin. It is important to consult your healthcare provider before taking them with other medications.

Q: How long does it take for Ozempic to start working?

Ozempic can start to lower blood sugar levels within the first week of treatment, but it may take up to 12 weeks to see the full effect. It is important to closely monitor your blood sugar level according to your doctor’s instructions.

Q: How to inject Ozempic?

Ozempic is a self-administered injection. It is injected subcutaneously into the fatty part of the skin on the top of the thigh, belly (abdomen) area or upper arm. It should be injected at the same time of day on the same day each week, with or without food.

Watch this detailed 5-steps video demonstrated by Novo Nordisk. Always speak to a doctor or nurse who can teach you the proper administration of Ozempic.

Q: Why is Ozempic so expensive?

Ozempic is a relatively new medication. It is currently only available as a brand-name drug, there are no generic versions of Ozempic available. It is important to discuss the cost and potential benefits of these medications with your doctor.

Q: Why am I not losing weight on Ozempic?

Ozempic treats type 2 diabetes in conjunction with diet and exercise, and its effects on weight vary among individuals. While some may experience weight loss with Ozempic, clinical studies have also reported instances of weight gain.

Q: How many kgs can I lose on Ozempic?

In clinical trials, it was found that patients with type 2 diabetes taking Ozempic lost up to 6.4 kg. This is significant as certain medications for the treatment of diabetes like insulin are known to promote weight gain. It is also important to note that while many people in the trials lost weight, some did gain weight as well.

Q: Can I use Ozempic for weight loss instead of Wegovy in Singapore?

Although Ozempic and Wegovy have similar dosages and are self-administered by a pre-filled pen, Ozempic is not a weight loss medication. Novo Nordisk, the company that developed both Ozempic and Wegovy have released a statement that they are not interchangeable.

Q: Will my GP prescribe Ozempic for weight loss?

Whether Ozempic is prescribed for weight loss as an off-label treatment depends on your GP’s judgment. Your GP must inform you about the risks and side effects of using Ozempic in this manner, ensuring appropriateness for your case.

Q: What other options do I have besides Ozempic for my weight loss in Singapore?

In Singapore, other medications for weight management include: Wegovy, Saxenda (Liraglutide), Panbesy (Phentermine), Duromine (Phentermine), Orlistat and Contrave. It is important that weight loss medications are used together with a sustainable diet and exercise plan.

At Sire, we bring you accurate health information you can trust. Read our comprehensive guide on the different weight loss medications in Singapore.

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