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TikTok trend of using Ozempic for fat loss seemingly supported by US doctors

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We previously reported on the controversial use of the diabetes drug, Ozempic, as a fat loss injection and it seems that US doctors may be in favour of it.

This is the finding, at any rate, of a new survey of 1,024 Americans and 92 medical practitioners. While doctors may not actually be prescribing the drug, they could be fueling interest in weight-loss injections more so than social media.

Tebra, a company that provides operating systems for independent healthcare providers, undertook the survey which found that 42% of medical providers have had patients without diabetes who ask for an Ozempic prescription, with 36% revealing they had faced backlash for not prescribing it. In total, only 18% had prescribed the drug for weight loss.

Moreover, 51% of the Tebra medical practitioner respondents also said that Ozempic should not be covered by insurance. This is likely to limit its practicality as a weight loss tool for those without a medical need, by making the cost of Ozempic relatively high for patients; without insurance, a prescription can reach $1,300 (£1,050). However, as previously reported, it may lead to a dangerous rise in unregulated purchases, for at-home use.

Interestingly, doctor recommendations led the way for driving significant demand for Ozempic, rather than social media. Forty-one percent of the Americans surveyed reported that medical professionals were responsible for their interest in the drug. This was followed by 27% who were influenced by friends and family, while social media ranked third with 24% of individuals reporting this was where they found the information. Celebrity endorsements only influenced 9% of respondents.

Another notable finding from the research was that 14% of the medical practitioners surveyed personally took Ozempic – although the information was unclear on in which capacity – and 58% would recommend Ozempic for weight loss. This does suggest the drug’s effectiveness for fat reduction and indicates the need for further discussion on whether it can be safely and effectively used for this purpose, without compromising supply for those in medical need.

The FDA lists possible side effects of Ozempic as including low blood sugar, inflammation of the pancreas, complications of diabetes-related retina disease (diabetic retinopathy), and allergic reactions. In the Tebra survey, nausea (45%), headache (32%), and diarrhea (31%) were the most reported side effects.

For reference, Ozempic is a semaglutide injection developed by Novo Nordisk for type 2 diabetes patients. It is FDA-approved for improving blood sugar control in adults with type 2 diabetes in combination with diet and exercise. Novo Nordisk has another semaglutide injection developed specifically for weight loss called Wegvoy – although this is, ironically, yet to reach the same recognition among the public as Ozempic.

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