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What to do when they run out or can’t take them anymore

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  • Many people have started taking Ozempic, Wegovy, and other GLP-1 drugs for quick weight loss.

  • But some end up having to quit the drugs due to other medical conditions or trouble getting more.

  • That puts the patients at risk of gaining back the weight that they lost.

Lots of people have started taking weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy over the last two years.

But fewer have asked a key question: What happens if they need to stop taking the medications?

It’s a situation many people are facing. Sometimes, patients have to stop taking the drugs because they get pregnant or are preparing for surgery, NPR reported on Monday.

In other cases, the drugs have become hard to find. One patient who used Zepbound, another GLP-1 drug, to lose 35 pounds told NPR that he had to start using a rival drug after he couldn’t find more Zepbound.

“There are going to be scenarios, especially in young people, [where] we will have to come off the medicine, whether they like it or not,” Dr. Rekha Kumar, an endocrinologist who formerly served as medical director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, told NPR.

GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy have been touted as quick ways to lose weight and avoid health problems associated with obesity, such as heart problems. The medications rely on Semaglutide, an active ingredient that reduces users’ appetites.

Some have even said that widespread use of the drugs could lead to economic growth, as poor health imposes significant economic costs.

But many people who have started using these medicines aren’t obese and turned to them for their short-term effects. If patients stop taking the medicine, they will likely gain back much of the weight that they lost, especially without careful changes to their diet and exercise, NPR reported.

One study released earlier this month suggested that Ozempic and Wegovy users could minimize that weight gain by gradually weaning themselves off of the drugs instead of quitting suddenly. But the single study used a small sample size, indicating that more research is needed to confirm the approach, Bloomberg reported.

Besides drugmakers like Novo Nordisk, which makes Ozempic and Wegovy, food company Nestlé has also gotten in on the weight loss frenzy. The company said last week, that Vital Pursuit, a new frozen food brand from Nestlé, will offer small-portioned meals designed for GLP-1 users starting later this year.

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