What is Ozempic?
Recently, the media have been promoting a product called
Ozempic and have quoted many success stories from people who have achieved
dramatic weight loss by using it.
However, Ozempic is unlicensed for weight loss and is
actually licenced for use in the UK to control type 2 diabetes.
Is Ozempic safe and legal
for weight loss?
Before a medicine can be widely used
in the UK, it must first be granted a license. While no medicine is completely
safe, a marketing authorisation or product
characteristics outlines, among other things, the indication(s), recommended
dose(s), contraindications, and special warnings and precautions for use on
which the licence is based, and it is in line with such use that the benefits
of the medicine have been judged to outweigh the potential risks. Furthermore,
a licensed medicine: has been assessed for efficacy, safety, and quality; has
been manufactured to appropriate quality standards; and when placed on the
market is accompanied by appropriate product information and labelling.
Licences are only granted if strict safety and quality
standards are met. In the UK, licences are granted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
“Off-label”or unlicenced use means
that the medicine has a license for treating some conditions, but that the
manufacturer of the medicine has not applied for a license for it to be used to
treat your condition. In other words, Ozempic has not undergone
clinical trials to see if it is effective and safe in treating weight loss and
so does not have a product license in the UK for treating obesity. It has a
product licence for controlling Type 2 diabetes.
Is there an alternative to Ozempic?
There is a very effective product called Saxenda that is licenced
in the UK for weight loss by the MHRA and is available now to help make your
weight loss journey much more successful. Saxenda dramatically reduces your
appetite and combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle can help you to achieve
your weight loss goal. Saxenda
is a self-injected prefilled pen used once daily.
It contains the active substance Liraglutide and helps aid adults
with excess weight (BMI ≥28) who also have weight-related medical problems or
those with obesity (BMI ≥30) to lose weight and keep the weight off.
What is the difference between Ozempic
On reading the media articles it would appear that the main
difference between Saxenda and Ozempic is that Saxenda is a daily injection and
Ozempic is a weekly injection.
However, the most important difference between the two is
that Saxenda is licenced for use as a weight loss medication in the UK and
Ozempic is not.
Unfortunately, there are a few
unscrupulous websites and weight loss clinics that are selling Ozempic that put
profit before safety.
Ozempic be available in the future for weight loss?
In fact, Ozempic will never be granted
a product licence for weight loss as it is a brand name and it is the active
ingredient in Ozempic called Semaglutide that is currently undergoing clinical
trials for the treatment of weight loss.
When Semaglutide is granted a
product licence for weight loss it will be under a different brand name and
will be a different dosage to that used for diabetic control.
As soon as Semaglutide has been granted a product licence by
the MHRA we will supply it as an alternative to Saxenda.
In the meantime, it is safer to use the licenced product
Saxenda that has been proven to be very effective at helping you to reach your
weight loss goal.
Medically reviewed by
Superintendent pharmacist Margaret Hudson BSc(Hons) MRPharmS
16 February 2021