Research Reveals That Patients Using Obesity Control Drug Ozempic or Wegovy Tend to Gain Weight After Stopping Medication

Obesity Medication (Photo: Wonchalerm)

Patients taking the blockbuster obesity drugs Ozempic or Wegovy are likely to regain weight once they stop using the medications.

Karin Conde-Knape, Novo Nordisk’s senior vice president of global drug discovery, explained in an interview on Wednesday, “I think this is what we see when people go on diets or different exercise regimens, similar to when they go on a pharmacological treatment.

As long as you’re keeping your intake the same, your output the same, you’re able to control your weight. But if you go out of this, you will immediately start to come back.”

Conde-Knape highlighted that the rate of weight gain after stopping Wegovy varies among individuals, with some regaining weight sooner and others later. Both Ozempic and Wegovy are made by Novo Nordisk.

She stated that available data indicates most individuals will regain the majority of their weight within five years of discontinuing an obesity drug, and about 50% of their weight after two to three years.

In some cases, individuals may even gain more weight than they initially lost after stopping the medication. Similar weight rebound has been observed in people who stop taking Ozempic.

Conde-Knape attributed this to the way the drugs function. They mimic a hormone called GLP-1, produced in the gut, which signals to the brain when a person is full, thereby having a “direct effect on satiety.”

Additionally, these drugs can influence the type of food people crave.

However, she noted that GLP-1 does not rewire “your neural networks to really define a new body weight setpoint.” Consequently, any weight loss achieved may not be permanent.

Ozempic Obesity Drug (Photo: Getty Images)

The Danish pharmaceutical company needs to conduct further investigations and clinical trials to understand what drives these rates of weight gain, but Conde-Knape emphasized, “what is critically important is that definitely you need to stay” on the treatment.

Her comments come after Ozempic and Wegovy gained significant attention in the U.S. as “weight loss miracles” in a society highly focused on body image. Clinical trials have shown Wegovy can decrease body weight by around 15%.

Hollywood celebrities, social media influencers, and even billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk have reportedly used these popular pen-shaped injections to shed unwanted weight.

Since gaining FDA approval for “chronic weight management” in June 2021, Wegovy has flown off the shelves.

Ozempic, initially authorized for diabetes treatment, is now being used off-label for weight loss, leading to widespread shortages last year and prompting Novo Nordisk to increase production of Wegovy.

The shortages, along with factors like out-of-pocket costs without insurance and unpleasant side effects, have led some people to stop taking Ozempic or Wegovy, resulting in many struggling with weight rebound.

Conde-Knape mentioned that data so far indicates weight loss is maintained with long-term use of the drugs.

However, the company’s data only covers usage for up to two to three years. “We’ll need to see how much more with the longer duration of treatment, how much more will people be able to achieve,” she said.

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