Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH & Martin M. Miner, MD, discuss the potential benefits of semaglutide, a newly approved weight-loss drug.
Semaglutide is a medication that has been approved by the FDA to treat type 2 diabetes and has also been approved for obesity management under the brand name Wegovy . It helps with weight loss by suppressing appetite, which can lead to a reduced intake of food .
Semaglutide works by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is naturally produced by the body. GLP-1 plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels and appetite. Semaglutide affects several processes in the body, including increasing the release of insulin, reducing the release of glucagon, and delaying gastric emptying .
The increase in insulin helps lower high blood sugar, while the reduction in glucagon release also contributes to better blood sugar control. Delaying gastric emptying means that food stays in the stomach for a longer time, which can help with satiety and decrease appetite .
The typical dose of semaglutide for weight loss is 2.4 milligrams, administered weekly as subcutaneous (under the skin) self-injections . While semaglutide has shown promising results in weight loss, it is important to note that its effectiveness is dependent on continued use, and some experts are skeptical about its long-term safety and limitations .
In semaglutide studies, participants experienced significant weight loss. In one clinical trial, participants who received semaglutide lost 5% or more, 10% or more, 15% or more, and 20% or more of their baseline body weight at week 68, compared to those who received a placebo . On average, participants taking semaglutide lost 15% of their body weight . Some individuals lost as much as 40 pounds while participating in a clinical trial of the drug .
In another study, after 68 weeks of treatment, the semaglutide group lost an average of 16% of their baseline body weight, equal to 37 pounds. This was compared to a 5.7% average weight loss, or 14 pounds, for those assigned to intensive behavioral therapy combined with a placebo . These results demonstrate the significant weight loss potential of semaglutide in clinical trials.
There are a few ways to save on semaglutide for weight loss, which is available as the brand-name medication Wegovy. One option is to use a copay savings card from the manufacturer. If you have commercial insurance, you may be eligible to pay as little as $25 for Wegovy using this savings card . More information about the copay savings card and other coverage options can be found on the Wegovy website .
It's important to note that the cost of Wegovy before insurance is around $1,627 per month, and coverage for weight loss drugs like Wegovy can vary widely depending on the type of insurance you have and your location . The $25 copay card provided by the manufacturer may help ease the cost, but only if your insurance plan covers the medication .
A more affordable way to get semaglutide when insurance does not pay is to have your doctor fax a prescription to a compounding pharmacy like EmpowerPharmacy.com. Their price runs approximately $350 per month.
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