The emerging consensus about semaglutide, the active ingredient in the buzzy drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, had been that there was a crucial catch: if patients stopped taking it, they'd soon regain the weight, locking them into an expensive and lifelong pharmaceutical habit.
But interestingly, new data now contradicts those findings, at least for some patients. As a new survey from the health software company Epic Systems indicates, two thirds of patients who used semaglutide injections correctly were able to keep off the weight they'd lost for as long as a year after discontinuing their prescriptions — which flies in the face of reports from people who regained the weight after getting off the drug.
The results didn't hold across the board. Of the more than 20,000 people surveyed by the firm's research arm, nearly 18 percent said they regained all the weight they'd lost — but still, 56 percent said that they kept the weight off, and more than half of those respondents said they continued to lose weight in the year after stopping their injections.
In other words, a great range of outcomes are possible, depending on the specific person — results that once again add to the growing and sometimes contradictory canon of studies and anecdotes regarding semaglutide as it continues to grow ever more popular, controversial, and difficult to obtain.
Part of a class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists that mimic the stomach enzyme that makes us feel full, the actual functioning of semaglutide is still something of an open question in the medical community because, like antidepressants, nobody's entirely sure how it works.
What studies have shown, however, is that these drugs can provide significant health benefits that aren't just limited to weight loss. On the flip side, research has also indicated that semaglutide carries the risk of some serious side effects, which can include everything from nausea and diarrhea to stomach paralysis and, in some rare cases, renal failure and pancreatitis.
Between the hype surrounding these drugs and the sober studies about some of their scarier-sounding side effects are the increasing number of personal stories doctors and journalists have begun compiling about them.
From The Messenger's report about a woman who regained all the weight she lost on Wegovy and more to NBC's interviews with the family of a man who died by suicide on Ozempic and now wants to get suicidal ideation included on the drug's warning label, media reports about semaglutide have been quite the mixed bag.
It's hard to imagine how people considering taking semaglutide or any other related GLP-1 agonist manage to sift through the noise and decide whether to take the drug for themselves, especially with the memeification of Ozempic bestowing it with an almost mystical quality in the minds of people with weight on the brain.
Big picture? Once agin, it seems that all these studies and stories reinforce a nuanced view: different peoples' bodies respond in different ways to this drug — just like pretty much everything else we ingest or inject.
More on semaglutide: Knockoff Ozempic Pharmacy Went Out of Business After an Executive's Suicide