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Wegovy Shortage and Alternatives for Weight Loss

Wegovy shortage and alternatives for weight loss
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD

Content

Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.Read more
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.

The surge in demand for Wegovy, a weight loss medication proven to help users lose 5-15% [1*] of their body weight over 68 weeks, has led to a significant shortage. This situation arises amidst a backdrop where 42% of American adults are categorized as obese, a condition linked to severe health risks such as heart disease and diabetes.

With the FDA’s approval in 2021 [2*] highlighting Wegovy’s effectiveness, those affected by the shortage are now seeking alternative weight loss solutions. This article will explore other scientifically supported options available, aiming to assist individuals in continuing their weight loss treatment despite the current challenges.

Why People Might Discontinue Wegovy

The decision to stop taking Wegovy, a prescription medication for weight management, is influenced by a variety of factors. Understanding these reasons can provide insight into the complex nature of weight loss medications and the challenges some individuals face:

  • Wegovy shortage. A significant factor is the current shortage of Wegovy, driven by its high demand. This shortage has made it difficult for patients to consistently access the medication, disrupting their treatment plans and forcing some to seek alternatives.
  • Side effects. While Wegovy has been effective for many, it also comes with potential side effects that can be uncomfortable or even intolerable for some users. Common side effects [3*] include gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, diarrhea, and constipation, as well as headaches and fatigue. For a subset of users, these adverse effects can outweigh the benefits of continued use, leading them to discontinue the medication.
  • Desired results achieved. Some individuals may choose to stop taking Wegovy after achieving their weight loss goals. In these cases, the decision is often made in consultation with a healthcare provider to transition to a maintenance plan that does not involve Wegovy. This plan may include lifestyle modifications and other strategies to sustain weight loss.

Wegovy Alternatives

For those seeking alternative weight management medications to Wegovy, the market offers several prescription medications, each with its own benefits and mechanisms of action. These alternatives can cater to various needs and medical profiles:

  • Saxenda (liraglutide). Similar to Wegovy, Saxenda is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that mimics an intestinal hormone to help control blood sugar, insulin levels, and digestion, but it is specifically approved for weight loss. It is administered via injection and is suited for individuals looking for a similar mechanism of action to Wegovy.
  • Contrave (naltrexone-bupropion). This combination medication works on two fronts: naltrexone reduces food cravings, while bupropion, an antidepressant, helps control appetite. Contrave is taken orally and is best for those who struggle with constant hunger and cravings.
  • Xenical, Alli (orlistat). Orlistat works by blocking the absorption of fats from the diet, thereby reducing caloric intake. Xenical requires a prescription, while Alli is available over the counter. It is ideal for those who prefer oral medication and are willing to adhere to a low-fat diet to minimize side effects like gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Qsymia (phentermine-topiramate). This combination stimulates the nervous system to suppress appetite and increase satiety. Qsymia is taken orally and is particularly effective for significant weight loss but comes with a risk of serious side effects, making it suitable for those under close medical supervision.
  • Imcivree (setmelanotide). Specifically approved for obesity driven by certain genetic conditions affecting the MC4R pathway, setmelanotide is a targeted treatment for a niche patient population. It is an injection that represents a breakthrough for genetic forms of obesity, offering a new hope where lifestyle changes and other anti-obesity medications have failed.
  • Mounjaro (tirzepatide). This medication activates GIP and GLP-1 receptors and is used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and weight loss. It works in several directions at once by improving insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity and delayed gastric emptying, among others. While being effective for some patients, Mounjaro also has contraindications and side effects, so consultation with a healthcare provider and close monitoring during the course of treatment are important.

Diabetes Medication for Weight Loss

The off-label use of diabetes medications for weight loss [4*] has gained traction, thanks to their effectiveness in not only managing blood sugar levels but also supporting weight loss efforts. Here’s a closer look at some of these medications:

  • Trulicity (dulaglutide) & Bydureon BCise (exenatide extended-release). Both medications are GLP-1 receptor agonists, a class of drugs that mimic the action of a natural hormone to slow down gastric emptying and stimulate insulin release in response to high blood sugar. Their use has been associated with significant weight loss in patients with type 2 diabetes, making them attractive options for individuals also struggling with obesity.
  • Byetta (exenatide). Another GLP-1 receptor agonist, Byetta is administered via injection twice daily. It helps control blood sugar levels and promotes weight loss by enhancing feelings of fullness, leading to reduced calorie intake.
  • Ozempic, Rybelsus (semaglutide). Semaglutide is available as Ozempic, an injectable medication, and Rybelsus, an oral tablet. Both are effective in lowering blood glucose levels and help to lose weight, with the weight loss effects being particularly pronounced, making semaglutide a popular choice for off-label use in weight management.
  • Victoza, Saxenda (liraglutide). Though Victoza is primarily marketed for diabetes management, its higher-dose counterpart, Saxenda, is approved for weight loss. Both medications work by stimulating insulin release in response to high blood glucose levels and suppressing appetite.
  • Adlyxin (lixisenatide). This GLP-1 receptor agonist is used to improve blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes, with a side benefit of weight loss. It slows gastric emptying and decreases appetite, contributing to its weight management effects.

Stopping Wegovy Safely

Discontinuing Wegovy should be approached with care to avoid potential withdrawal symptoms or a rebound in weight. Here is how to do it safely:

  1. Consult your healthcare provider. Before making any changes to your medication regimen, it is essential to discuss your plans with a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized advice based on your health history and current condition.
  2. Gradual reduction. Depending on your situation, your healthcare provider may suggest gradually reducing the dose rather than stopping abruptly. This can help minimize any adverse effects.
  3. Monitoring changes. Keep track of any changes in your body or mood. Some individuals may experience nausea, headaches, or a return of appetite. Monitoring these changes can help your healthcare provider adjust your plan as needed.
  4. Lifestyle adjustments. Continuing with the lifestyle changes that accompanied Wegovy, such as a balanced diet and regular exercise, is crucial for maintaining weight loss and overall health.

Conclusion

The quest for alternatives to Wegovy reflects a broader search for effective weight management solutions amidst shortages and side effects. A variety of medications, including those initially designed for diabetes care, offer potential pathways for weight loss, highlighting the importance of personalized medical advice in selecting the most suitable option.

Discontinuing Wegovy, like any prescription medication, requires careful consideration and professional guidance to ensure health and progress are maintained. Emphasizing a holistic approach that combines lifestyle adjustments with medical interventions, individuals can navigate their weight management journey with confidence, supported by informed choices and healthcare expertise.

Seeking treatment for losing weight necessitates talking with a medical expert. Comprehensive and tailored treatment can be provided through a collaborative approach where a primary care physician, registered dietitian, and potentially an endocrinologist or obesity specialist work together. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to help patients lose weight and a multidisciplinary team can help you find long-term and practical ways to improve your health.

FAQ

No, there are no over-the-counter alternatives to Wegovy that offer the same mechanism of action or efficacy. For weight management, there are over-the-counter supplements and lifestyle modification strategies, but it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for safe and effective options
Yes, Ozempic and Wegovy contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide, but they are approved for different uses. Ozempic is primarily for managing type 2 diabetes, while Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss.
No, Wegovy is not available in pill form; it is administered as a once-weekly injection.
As of February 2024, there is no generic version of Wegovy available.
No direct natural substitute exists for semaglutide. For weight management, options include dietary changes, physical activity, and certain supplements, but their effects vary and are not equivalent to semaglutide. Consult a healthcare provider for any assistance.

Sources

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+4 sources
  1. How long does it take to lose weight on Wegovy?
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  2. FDA Approves New Drug Treatment for Chronic Weight Management, First Since 2014
    Source link
  3. Wegovy (semaglutide): a new weight loss drug for chronic weight management
    Source link
  4. Off-label drugs for weight management
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD
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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.