Weight-Loss Injections Show Promise in Reducing Cancer Risk

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A major study suggests that popular weight-loss medications Wegovy and Ozempic, originally developed for diabetes, may also offer significant protection against several common cancers.

The research, presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology conference, found that obese patients taking these weekly injections were nearly 20% less likely to develop cancers like breast, bowel, pancreatic, and ovarian varieties.

Interestingly, the study also showed a 50% reduction in the death rate among obese patients taking the semaglutide injections over a 15-year period, compared to those not receiving them. Experts believe this benefit stems from the drugs’ ability to target obesity-related cancers, such as those of the thyroid, kidney, and liver.

This is significant because obesity is considered the second leading cause of cancer in the UK, after smoking, and is responsible for roughly 5% of new cases annually.

The study adds to the growing body of evidence highlighting the wider health benefits of GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1a), the class of drugs to which Wegovy and Ozempic belong. These medications go beyond just promoting weight loss.

Previous research has shown that semaglutide, the active ingredient in both drugs, can also reduce the risk of heart and kidney failure.

Weight Loss and Reduced Cancer Risk

The study involved tracking the health of over 270 obese patients who received GLP-1a medications for 15 years. Their outcomes were compared with two other groups: around 400 patients who underwent weight-loss surgery and 20,000 obese individuals who received no treatment.

While the medication group didn’t achieve the same level of weight loss as the surgery group, both sets of patients showed a similar decrease (around 19%) in the development of obesity-related cancers compared to the control group.

This suggests that weight reduction appears to be a key factor in the observed cancer risk reduction. Dr. Cindy Lin, a sports medicine expert, commented that weight loss seems to be a major driver in the lowered cancer cases observed in the study.

Beyond Weight Loss

The popularity of these medications has soared in recent years, not just for their weight-loss benefits but also due to celebrity endorsements from figures like Elon Musk and Boris Johnson. Research indicates that patients taking semaglutide can lose an average of 20% of their body weight.

The study also acknowledges the emergence of tirzepatide, an even more potent GLP-1a medication that recently became available.

Overall Significance

This research highlights the potential of GLP-1a medications in lowering the risk of cancer development, particularly among obese individuals. While further investigation is needed, these findings suggest a promising new avenue in the fight against cancer.

Better Contraception for Ozempic Users

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Ozempic Users Need Better Contraception

Claims that “skinny jabs” are causing an unexpected baby boom have prompted experts to advise women to use effective contraception alongside these medications.

Drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic, which contain semaglutide, have gained immense popularity due to their ability to help users lose more than 10% of their body weight. These medications work by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1, increasing insulin production, slowing stomach digestion, and reducing appetite.

However, the rise in the use of these drugs has coincided with numerous reports of women becoming pregnant while using them—these drugs are known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. The Facebook group “I got pregnant on Ozempic” has over 750 members, and Reddit threads are filled with similar anecdotes.

Although studies confirming a direct link are lacking, experts believe the association is plausible. Dr. Karin Hammarberg of Monash University in Australia explains that women with obesity often have irregular or no periods due to anovulation. Weight loss can lead to more regular ovulation, thereby improving fertility.

Research is ongoing to investigate whether semaglutide can enhance ovulation in women with obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition associated with irregular periods, weight gain, and infertility.

Despite potential benefits, concerns exist about the safety of using GLP-1 receptor agonists during pregnancy. A Novo Nordisk spokesperson, the manufacturer of Ozempic and Wegovy, noted that pregnancy or intention to become pregnant were exclusion criteria in their trials. Consequently, there is limited clinical trial data on semaglutide use in pregnant women.

Animal studies have indicated that semaglutide may cause fetal abnormalities. Novo Nordisk reported that pregnant rats exposed to the drug showed structural abnormalities and growth alterations in their offspring. Similar outcomes were observed in studies with rabbits and cynomolgus monkeys, with increased pregnancy loss and slight increases in fetal abnormalities at clinically relevant doses.

Novo Nordisk is conducting trials to determine the safety of these drugs for pregnant women. Meanwhile, the company advises against using semaglutide during pregnancy due to unknown effects on an unborn child. The patient information leaflet for Wegovy recommends using contraception while taking the medication and stopping its use at least two months before trying to conceive.

Despite these precautions, some women have reported pregnancies while using GLP-1 receptor agonists and hormonal contraception, sparking speculation that the drugs might interfere with birth control effectiveness.

Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly of the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science highlighted that the question of whether GLP-1 receptor agonists affect oral contraceptives remains largely unanswered. Gastrointestinal side effects like diarrhea from these drugs could potentially impair the absorption of oral contraceptives.

To mitigate the risk of unintended pregnancy, O’Rahilly suggests that women on the pill who wish to avoid pregnancy should consider using additional contraception, such as barrier methods, during active weight loss on GLP-1 receptor agonists. Once weight stabilizes, contraceptive efficacy is likely to return to normal.

Hammarberg supports this advice, noting that while anecdotal reports exist of women on semaglutide getting pregnant while on the pill, this can also happen without the medication. She advises that women on Ozempic and similar drugs use condoms or consider an IUD to ensure effective contraception.

Semaglutide Weight Loss in Postmenopausal Women

Hormone Therapy and Weight Loss in Postmenopausal Women: The Impact of Semaglutide

Introduction

Postmenopausal women who are overweight and on hormone therapy experience more significant weight loss with the GLP-1 receptor agonist drug semaglutide compared to those not on hormone therapy, according to a recent study published in Menopause.

The Impact of Menopause on Weight and Body Composition

During menopause, up to 70% of women experience weight gain due to aging, estrogen decline, a decrease in energy, and a decrease in spontaneous physical activity. This transition is also associated with body composition changes, such as increased fat mass, decreased lean mass, and more body fat overall. These changes can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (formerly nonalcoholic fatty liver disease), and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Hormone Therapy and Semaglutide: Potential Benefits

Menopause hormone therapy has shown potential in partially reducing these changes, as has semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist approved for treating overweight and obesity. Semaglutide achieves an average weight loss of 15% over 68 weeks compared to other anti-obesity medications. Due to the lack of studies comparing weight loss outcomes with antiobesity therapies, including semaglutide among postmenopausal women with and without hormone therapy use, researchers conducted this cohort study to compare weight loss response and changes in cardiometabolic risk markers in postmenopausal women using semaglutide with and without hormone therapy.

Study Design and Participant Overview

The study included postmenopausal women and a retrospective review of electronic medical records (EMRs) from the Mayo Clinic Health System. Researchers examined patients using semaglutide who were overweight or obese between January 1, 2021, and March 31, 2023. Researchers compared weight loss outcomes and changes in cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors between postmenopausal women with and without systemic hormone therapy.

Menopause was defined as women aged 40 years and older with 12 months or more of no menstrual period. Women in the no-hormone therapy group never received systemic hormone therapy, while those in the hormone therapy group had started their hormones before semaglutide initiation at three months use or more and continued throughout the treatment.

The study included 16 women on hormone therapy and 90 women not on hormone therapy, ranging from 48 to 64 years old. The hormone therapy group ranged from 51 to 67 years old.

Weight Loss Outcomes and Cardiometabolic Improvements

Women on hormone therapy showed higher total body weight loss percentage (TBWL%) at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months compared to those not on therapies. For example, after 3 months, women on hormone therapy lost about 7% of their weight, while those not on hormone therapy lost about 5%. After 6 months, women on hormone therapy lost about 13% of their weight, while those not on hormone therapy lost about 9%. After 9 months, women on hormone therapy lost about 15% of their weight, while those not on hormone therapy lost about 10%. Lastly, after 12 months, women on hormone therapy lost about 16% of their weight, while those not on hormone therapy lost about 12%. Both groups showed improvements in cardiometabolic risk markers.

Study Strengths, Limitations, and Future Directions

The strengths of this study include the fresh efforts to evaluate semaglutide’s impact on postmenopausal women with or without hormone therapy and crucial data on cardiovascular and metabolic risk markers relevant to menopausal weight and health management. However, limitations exist. The study’s design can’t confirm direct links between hormone therapy and semaglutide effects or reduce other influencing factors.

While there are significant weight loss differences, the small sample size could impact the bigger picture or simply generalize results. In addition, with most participants being white, educated, and financially stable, the findings may not apply to a wider population.

To discover a better relationship between hormone therapy use and weight loss response to semaglutide in postmenopausal women, researchers suggest that future studies should incorporate the age at menopause, type of menopause, the duration and dose of hormone therapy use; data on sleep quality, quality of life, and more factors. Additionally, researchers suggest further studies investigate if there are differences in weight loss response to antiobesity medications among premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women not using hormone therapy.

Conclusion

The study highlights the potential benefits of combining hormone therapy with semaglutide for weight loss in postmenopausal women. Despite the limitations, the findings provide valuable insights into managing weight and associated health risks during menopause. Further research is necessary to broaden the understanding and application of these therapies across diverse populations.

Ozempic Slows Chronic Kidney Disease

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Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic: A Promising Treatment for Chronic Kidney Disease

Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster diabetes drug Ozempic, known for its weight-loss side effects, has shown promise in helping patients with chronic kidney disease, according to a study funded by the pharmaceutical company.

A weekly, one-milligram injection of semaglutide—the active ingredient in Ozempic and the weight-loss drug Wegovy—was found to reduce the combined risk of major kidney complications, including kidney failure, cardiovascular events, and death from any cause by 24% in patients with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. This study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, highlights the potential of semaglutide as a multi-faceted treatment.

“These benefits reflect important clinical effects on kidney, cardiovascular, and survival outcomes among high-risk patients, particularly given the reassuring safety findings, and support a therapeutic role for semaglutide in this population,” the study’s authors stated.

The results stem from a late-stage clinical trial that Novo Nordisk concluded early last October after an independent monitoring committee confirmed Ozempic’s efficacy in treating chronic kidney disease. The trial included 3,533 participants with kidney disease and type 2 diabetes over 3.4 years. Half of the participants received semaglutide, while the other half were given a placebo.

Following these promising results, Novo Nordisk plans to request the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand Ozempic’s label to include the treatment of chronic kidney disease.

Chronic kidney disease affects an estimated 37 million Americans, or about one in seven adults, according to the National Institute of Health.

This news comes on the heels of the FDA’s expanded approval of Wegovy on March 8, following a clinical trial that demonstrated the drug’s ability to reduce the risk of serious heart events by 20%. This approval reflects the growing recognition of semaglutide’s benefits beyond diabetes and weight loss, highlighting its potential to address other significant health concerns.

MyPhenome Hungry Gut Test

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Mayo Clinic Study Highlights Predictive Power of MyPhenome Hungry Gut Test

Introduction The MyPhenome Hungry Gut test, developed by Phenomix Sciences, may help predict patient responses to semaglutide, potentially reducing uncertainty in treatment outcomes for patients with obesity. This conclusion is based on results presented during the presidential plenary session at Digestive Disease Week 2024.

The Rise of Semaglutide-Based Medications Semaglutide-based medications, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, have surged in popularity due to their ability to promote weight loss. Clinical trials have shown impressive results, with patients achieving a reduction in BMI upwards of 15%. However, individual responses to these medications can vary significantly, highlighting the need for more personalized treatment approaches, especially given the rising costs and frequent shortages of the drug.

The Role of MyPhenome in Personalized Medicine

Identifying the Hungry Gut Phenotype The MyPhenome swab test leverages genetic and biological data to identify patients with the hungry gut phenotype, which can predict how well a patient might respond to semaglutide. The hungry gut phenotype is characterized by altered postprandial satiety, indicating how soon a patient may feel hungry again after eating. This information can reveal which patients are more likely to experience reduced hunger and improved blood sugar control on semaglutide, potentially leading to more successful weight management.

Study Results: MyPhenome’s Predictive Accuracy

Study Design and Participant Selection In a study to evaluate MyPhenome’s effectiveness, 84 participants with obesity who were prescribed semaglutide took the assessment. Data were analyzed using Phenomix Sciences’ Machine-Learning Gene Risk Score algorithm to determine if participants were hungry gut positive or negative.

Striking Findings The study results were striking: participants with the hungry gut phenotype lost nearly twice as much weight, achieving 19.5% total body weight loss (TBWL) compared to 10% TBWL among those without the phenotype after 12 months.

Industry Response “We are excited with the results of this independent study of Phenomix’s MyPhenome test at Mayo Clinic,” said Mark Bagnall, CEO of Phenomix Sciences, in a news release. “Demand for semaglutide marketed as Ozempic and Wegovy is at an all-time high; this study showed an ability to identify responders to semaglutide using our test. We are excited about what lies ahead in precision medicine for obesity and are hopeful our test will be a pivotal tool for clinicians across the US.”

Addressing Costs and Accessibility Issues

Rising Costs and Drug Shortages Semaglutide can cost patients around $1,000 per month out-of-pocket. Increased demand has led to persistent drug shortages, making it difficult for patients to access continuous care, which can disrupt treatment plans and lead to health complications.

MyPhenome’s Potential Impact MyPhenome aims to address these issues by optimizing the use and distribution of semaglutide. The urgency for such solutions is rising: Morgan Stanley Research predicts that the obesity drug market will surpass $77 billion by 2030, and other estimates suggest that 1 in 2 US adults will be obese by then.

Conclusion

“Our results underscore the potential of individualizing therapy to improve outcomes that will ultimately translate into improved health,” said Hurtado Andrade, MD, principal investigator of the study, in a news release.

On Ozempic? Foods to Avoid

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From Diabetes Drug to Celebrity Weight-Loss Secret: The Rise of Ozempic

Ozempic (semaglutide) has transitioned from a diabetes treatment to a well-known weight-loss aid, earning a place in households across the nation. This medication belongs to a new generation of “nutrient-stimulated, hormone-based therapeutics” that mimic the body’s natural hormones. Specifically, Ozempic mimics GLP-1, a hormone produced in the gut that signals the brain when you’ve had enough to eat.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for type 2 diabetes (under the brand name Ozempic) and obesity (as Wegovy), semaglutide is highly effective for both conditions. However, many patients experience side effects such as nausea and abdominal pain. Since Ozempic reduces appetite, patients often eat less, necessitating dietary adjustments to maintain proper nutrition and manage symptoms.

Foods to Avoid While Taking Ozempic

1. Greasy and Fried Foods

Foods like french fries, onion rings, and potato chips are high in fat, with more than half of their calories often coming from fat. When losing weight on Ozempic, it’s crucial to remember that muscle loss can accompany fat loss, which can be problematic. To combat muscle loss, incorporate resistance training like squats, pushups, or weight lifting at least a few times a week. Additionally, prioritize high-protein foods over high-fat foods. Healthy high-protein options include beans, lentils, nut butters, and seafood.

2. Refined Carbohydrates

Many Americans regularly consume refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, crackers, and desserts. These “calorie-dense, nutrient-poor” foods offer few health-promoting nutrients relative to their calorie content. Since Ozempic users experience reduced appetite and eat less, it’s important to choose nutrient-dense foods. Opt for starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn, or peas, and whole grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole-grain pasta. Complement these with fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds to ensure a high nutrient intake.

3. Coffee and Alcohol

While it’s safe to consume coffee and alcohol in moderation while taking Ozempic, these beverages can be harsh on the stomach. If you’re prone to acid reflux or indigestion, drinking too much coffee or alcohol can exacerbate these issues. Ozempic slows digestion, causing food—and these beverages—to linger in the stomach longer, potentially leading to heartburn. Limit coffee to two cups per day and alcohol to one drink per day if you experience symptoms. Consider alternatives like ginger tea or water infused with sliced cucumbers and mint to soothe your stomach.

4. Big Meals

Ozempic slows down digestion, making large meals hard on your digestive system. Eating a big meal may cause bloating, nausea, or prolonged feelings of fullness. Instead, try consuming several smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. Focus on nutrient-dense snacks that combine fruits and vegetables with protein sources, such as apples with peanut butter, carrots with hummus, or plain nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh berries.

Final Thoughts

Understanding which foods to avoid can help manage the side effects of Ozempic and ensure optimal nutrition. While this medication can be highly effective for weight loss and diabetes management, combining it with a healthy diet and regular exercise is crucial for the best results.

For more information and detailed guidance, consult your healthcare provider to tailor your diet and lifestyle changes to your specific needs.

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Nutritionist Claims Certain Healthy Foods Can Mimic Weight Loss Injections

A nutritionist has revealed that regularly consuming certain healthy foods can yield slimming results similar to those achieved with weight loss injections.

In the past year, weight loss injections containing a hunger-blocking compound called semaglutide have gained significant popularity. Distributed under brand names like Wegovy and Ozempic, these medications are primarily used to treat type 2 diabetes but have also become known for their quick weight loss effects by mimicking the fullness caused by the GLP-1 hormone.

However, nutritionist Dr. Emma Beckett suggests that eating foods rich in “good fats,” such as avocados, nuts, and eggs, can naturally boost GLP-1 production in the body, making them just as effective as semaglutide injections for weight loss but without the unpleasant side effects.

Healthier Alternatives to Weight Loss Injections

Dr. Beckett explained that macronutrients found in certain foods trigger GLP-1 secretion. “There is evidence that by choosing foods high in these nutrients, GLP-1 levels can be increased,” she told Diabetes.co.uk. “This means a healthy diet, high in GLP-1 stimulating nutrients can increase GLP-1 levels. This could be foods with good fats, like avocado or nuts, or lean protein sources like eggs.”

Avocados, for instance, are packed with healthy fats that can trigger appetite-regulating hormones, making them a beneficial addition to any diet aiming for weight loss.

Potential Side Effects of Weight Loss Injections

While effective for individuals with obesity, weight loss injections can come with some unpleasant symptoms. According to the websites for Wegovy and Ozempic, regular use may cause nausea, stomach pain, constipation, and vomiting. Wegovy users may also experience headaches, tiredness, and dizziness.

Wegovy has been approved for use on the NHS for those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 and higher, but patients must have a serious weight-related condition, like type 2 diabetes, to qualify.

Notable Users and Clinical Findings

Celebrities such as Jeremy Clarkson, Elon Musk, and Chelsea Handler have openly admitted to using these drugs for weight loss. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey has also turned to these medications to shed pounds.

A study published earlier this month suggested that semaglutide injections may offer additional benefits for people who struggle to lose weight. The findings indicate that obese individuals who underwent this treatment had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure compared to those who took a placebo.

Clinical trials for Wegovy showed that participants with an average starting weight of 232 pounds lost about 15% of their body weight—approximately 35 pounds or 2.5 stone—over a 68-week period.

The Importance of Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Despite the benefits of weight loss injections, Dr. Beckett emphasizes that lasting health improvements require long-term dietary changes. “Using weight loss injections does not give you the go-ahead to indulge,” she says, noting that users must still commit to healthier eating habits for true health benefits.

In summary, while weight loss injections like Wegovy and Ozempic can be effective, incorporating certain healthy foods into your diet may offer similar benefits. Avocados, nuts, and eggs are just a few examples of foods that can naturally stimulate GLP-1 production, potentially aiding in weight loss without the side effects associated with medication.

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Weight-loss drugs soars among kids and young adults

Teen’s Remarkable Weight Loss Journey with Wegovy: A Look into the Rise of GLP-1 Drugs Among Young People

At 17, Israel McKenzie struggled so much with obesity that he stopped attending high school in person and felt embarrassed to interact with people at his restaurant job.

“I was in a really dark place,” says McKenzie, whose weight had reached 335 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame, despite numerous attempts to diet and exercise. “I had given up hope.”

But last year, the weight-loss drug Wegovy helped him shed 110 pounds in nine months, making the rural Tennessee teen part of a growing trend of adolescents and young adults using diabetes and obesity medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists, according to new research.

Even as millions of older adults seek out drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, monthly use of these medications has surged among people aged 12 to 25. This information comes from a new analysis of dispensing records from nearly 94% of U.S. retail pharmacies from 2020 to 2023.

New Insights from Research

The report, published in the journal JAMA, used the IQVIA prescription database to provide the first national look at the uptake of GLP-1 drugs among this age group. Nearly 31,000 children aged 12 to 17 and over 162,000 people aged 18 to 25 used these medications in 2023 alone, said Dr. Joyce Lee, a University of Michigan pediatrician and diabetes expert who led the research.

“What it’s suggesting is that it’s one of the tools in the toolbox and there are more providers prescribing this medication for the population,” she said.

The report indicates that the number of 12- to 25-year-olds using any GLP-1 drug — including older medications first approved for diabetes treatment in 2005 and for weight loss in 2014 — increased from about 8,700 a month in 2020 to over 60,000 a month in 2023, a nearly 600% increase. This rise occurred even as prescriptions of other drugs among these patients fell by about 3%.

Addressing the Obesity Epidemic

Those who received the drugs are just a fraction of young people struggling with obesity, Lee noted. About 20% of U.S. children and adolescents and approximately 42% of adults have the chronic disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In early 2023, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children and teens with obesity be evaluated early and treated aggressively, including with surgery and medication if warranted.

McKenzie’s Transformation

McKenzie, the Tennessee teen, said he began gaining weight five years ago, during puberty.

“I started turning to food for all of my problems,” he said.

The extra weight worsened his asthma and put him at risk of developing diabetes, according to his doctor. Despite following medical advice to cut out sugary soda and snack foods and to exercise more, these efforts didn’t make a difference.

“My old doctor told me there was nothing he could do,” McKenzie said. “He told me it was my fault.”

In early 2023, McKenzie connected with Dr. Joani Jack, a pediatric obesity specialist at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who regularly prescribes GLP-1 drugs for kids.

“I told him I’ve seen 10 other people just like you today and we have lots of tools and treatment options,” Jack said. These typically include intensive behavioral and nutrition interventions combined with medication, if necessary.

In McKenzie’s case, Jack prescribed the weight-loss drug Wegovy, which in late 2022 was approved for use in U.S. children over age 12. More than 6,000 kids in that age group received Wegovy in 2023, according to new data. More than 7,600 received Ozempic, approved to treat diabetes in adults but used off-label in adolescents. Others received older GLP-1 drugs such as Saxenda and Trulicity.

Considerations and Challenges

McKenzie reported no notable side effects from the medication, but Dr. Lee noted that some young people experience nausea, vomiting, or constipation, including symptoms severe enough to stop the drugs.

Understanding the surging use of these medications in young people is crucial, Lee said. The drugs are intended for continued use, so “we really need to think about the long-term safety and effectiveness of these medications for this population,” she said.

Additionally, the drugs are expensive and often difficult to obtain due to supply issues or lack of insurance coverage.

Government-run Medicaid plans paid for nearly half of the GLP-1 drugs prescribed to 12- to 17-year-olds and about a quarter of those used by people aged 18 to 25, the research found. Commercial insurance covered nearly 44% of the younger kids and about two-thirds of those who were older.

A New Lease on Life

Today, McKenzie says his asthma has improved and he looks forward to interacting with co-workers and friends.

“I have a lot of self-confidence now, a lot more than I used to,” he said. “It has changed everything.”


Federal Ban on Ozempic Replicas

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Federal Government to Ban Compounded Replica Ozempic Amid Safety Concerns

The federal government will prohibit all compounding pharmacists from producing replica versions of diabetes drugs like Ozempic and Mounjaro, widely used off-label for weight loss, following a Four Corners investigation that exposed illegal manufacturing practices in Australia.

Investigation Findings

A video recorded by investigators from the Therapeutic Goods Authority (TGA) revealed that a facility in Western Sydney was producing these drugs under unsanitary conditions, using kitchen equipment and chemicals. The investigation found that these illegally manufactured drugs were being exported overseas.

Ongoing Drug Shortages

Global shortages of Ozempic are expected to continue into next year. The government has announced a four-month transition period for the industry before the ban takes effect.

Public Safety Concerns

The Four Corners investigation uncovered that a registered Australian pharmacist was running an international operation, manufacturing and exporting replica Ozempic to the United States. Patients who used medication from Total Compounding Pharmaceuticals (TCP) reported serious side effects, including nerve damage, rashes, vomiting blood, and bleeding gums, which they believe were linked to the compounded drugs.

Currently, Australian compounding pharmacists are allowed to reproduce brand-name drugs during shortages, but these replicas are not subjected to the same stringent safety checks. Federal health minister Mark Butler announced that this loophole will close in October, removing the exemption for compounding active ingredients in drugs like Ozempic.

Impact on Patients and the Industry

In Australia, an estimated 20,000 people use compounded weight loss medications, but the actual number may be higher. The TGA has already seized vials of unlawfully manufactured semaglutide from a Victorian pharmacy.

Minister Butler expressed concern that many patients using compounded versions of these drugs were unaware of the safety risks, which have also been highlighted by the FDA in the United States. He emphasized the lack of oversight in the manufacturing conditions and the ingredients used, as well as the absence of a formal system for reporting adverse events.

Filthy Manufacturing Conditions

The TGA provided footage showing the deplorable conditions in which TCP was allegedly producing replica Ozempic. The facility, filled with kitchen mixers and blenders, did not meet the standards expected for manufacturing injectable medications.

Regulatory and Industry Response

The announcement of the ban has garnered support from various health organizations, including the Pharmacy Board of Australia, Diabetes Australia, the Medical Board of Australia, and the RACGP. However, some pharmacy groups and telehealth companies, like Eucalyptus, opposed the ban, arguing it would deny thousands of Australians access to life-changing medication amid global shortages.

Addressing the Shortage

RACGP president Dr. Nicole Higgins acknowledged the shortage and the potential anxiety it might cause for patients using Ozempic off-label for weight loss. Minister Butler assured that the government is working with pharmaceutical companies to mitigate the impact of the ban. He stressed the importance of prioritizing diabetes patients for whom these drugs are approved under the PBS.

“We’ve already got a shortage of this medication for the people it was initially designed for, which is our [people with] type 2 diabetes. I expect that those shortages may be exacerbated, and it’s going to cause some anxiety for those who’ve been using Ozempic off-label,” Dr. Higgins said.

The TGA’s latest update indicates that the supply of Ozempic will remain limited throughout 2024 due to increased demand for weight loss, with Mounjaro also expected to be in short supply until at least September.

Moving Forward

Patients relying on compounded medications are advised to consult their GPs and healthcare teams for support during this transition. Minister Butler reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring that diabetes patients have priority access to these essential medications.

The four-month transition period is intended to allow the industry to adapt while safeguarding public health by eliminating unsafe manufacturing practices.

Nestle $5 Pizza for Ozempic Users

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Nestle Launches $5 Pizza for Ozempic Users

Nestle (NESN.S) is introducing a new $5 line of frozen pizzas and protein-enriched pastas in the United States, specifically designed for individuals taking weight-loss medications like Wegovy and Ozempic. These new products are tailored to meet the nutritional needs of those on GLP-1 agonists, drugs known for their appetite-suppressing effects.

Targeted Nutrition

Nestle, the world’s largest food company, which already sells popular brands like DiGiorno pizza and Stouffer’s meals, has developed these new offerings with higher levels of protein, iron, and calcium. Tom Moe, president of Nestle USA’s meal division, described the new brand, Vital Pursuit, as “food solutions” for people seeking the right nutrition to complement their use of weight-loss drugs. These meals are priced at $4.99 and under, slightly more than a DiGiorno four cheese personal pan pizza, which retails at $4.79 at Target.

Rapid Development

Nestle began developing companion products for GLP-1 drugs last year. “We moved real fast on this,” Moe said. Nestle CEO Mark Schneider noted in October that the company was closely monitoring the potential impact of these drugs on food product demand and was working on products to help mitigate “loss of lean muscle mass” in users.

Market Response

Despite concerns that appetite-suppressing drugs could reduce food company sales, executives at Nestle and other companies like Conagra (CAG.N) see an opportunity to market products such as beef jerky, popcorn, and frozen meals. Mondelez (MDLZ.O) also views its snack bars as fitting well into the diet of a GLP-1 patient.

Growing User Base

Goldman Sachs estimates that 10 million to 70 million U.S. consumers could be using GLP-1 drugs in the next four years. Nestle has engaged with individuals on these medications to develop suitable meals and will soon offer samples. The company first introduced the brand to Walmart (WMT.N) and plans to expand to other major retailers like Kroger (KR.N) and Target (TGT.N).

Addressing Protein Needs

People on GLP-1 medications risk losing lean muscle mass as they lose weight and often have reduced appetites. Dr. Ethan Lazarus, an obesity doctor in Colorado, emphasized the importance of ensuring adequate protein intake for these individuals. Lazarus, who has worked with GLP-1 drugmakers Eli Lilly (LLY.N) and Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO), noted the potential popularity of protein-rich, easy-to-digest foods.

Other Market Players

Nutrition company Herbalife (HLF.N) has also begun selling shake mixes and fiber supplements in bundles targeting people on GLP-1 drugs, with plans to expand these bundles to other markets, including South America. Meal kit provider Daily Harvest offers a GLP-1 companion food collection but has seen slow sales.

Vital Pursuit Details

Vital Pursuit meals will range from eight to 10 ounces (227 to 284 grams). Unlike the calorie-focused Lean Cuisine brand introduced in the 1980s, Vital Pursuit emphasizes higher fiber, protein, and other macronutrients.

By addressing the nutritional needs of people on weight-loss medications, Nestle aims to provide better dietary support for those seeking to maintain their health and muscle mass while using these popular drugs.