From Ozempic to Mounjaro – Diabetes Drugs Repurposed as Weight Loss Wonders | UK News

Drugs designed to treat diabetes and repurposed as miracle diet aids have taken over TikTok.

The weight loss caused by these weekly injectables is rapid and previously unattainable, people boast, flaunting barely slim bodies.

But what are these drugs, how do they work, and what were they originally designed for?

Mounjaro, Ozempic, Wegovy: what are they?

Let’s start with the best known of the trio: Ozempic.

Ozempic exploded last year – if media reports from the US are to be believed, every pound that fell in Los Angeles was probably thanks to the “miracle” injectable drug.

What started out as the preserve of A-listers and Hollywood’s elite — rumors have swirled around it Kim Kardashian used it to fit Marilyn Monroe’s dress – grew rapidly in popularity.


Its generic name is semaglutide. This is the same as Wegovy, which was licensed as a weight loss drug in the UK and will be available later this spring.

Wegovy has a slightly higher dosage and is designed for weight loss, whereas Ozempic’s primary purpose was as a treatment for diabetes (more on that later).

Mounjaro – also known by its generic name tirzepatide – is the newcomer.

Like Ozempic and Wegovy, it suppresses your appetite and lengthens the amount of time food stays in your stomach, leading to weight loss, at least as long as you keep taking it.

The U.S. Food and Drink Administration (FDA) last year accelerated approval of the drug for the treatment of obesity after a study showed it helped people lose more than 20 percent of their body weight.

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The controversial drug Ozempic has taken over the internet

From diabetes drug to diet pill

Ozempic and Mounjaro were both initially developed as treatments for type 2 diabetes.

The drugs, which come as weekly injections, lower blood sugar by increasing insulin production when blood sugar is rising and helping to prevent the liver from making and releasing too much sugar.

So how do they lose weight?

Both semaglutide and tyrzepatide work by mimicking the hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide), to manage hunger and slow digestion.

Tirzepatide – Mounjaro – is a double-acting drug and also mimics the hormone GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide).

In terms of weight loss, in clinical trials people lost up to 20% of their body weight with tirzepatide and 15% with semaglutide.


They look like miracle drugs for people who want to lose weight – what’s the catch?

There are some downsides. First, the side effects listed: nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, severe enough that about 5% of people in the semaglutide study would stop taking it, and 6-7% in the tirzepatide study.

The people in the study on semaglutide also had problems with gallstones.

The drugs also carry serious risks including kidney failure, pancreatitis, and thyroid cancer.

Another downside was nicknamed “Ozempic face”. Facial aging is a side effect of sudden weight loss as people find their facial skin saggy where it once was plump.

To know more:
Controversial diet drug takes over internet despite health warnings
Wegovy’s weight loss jab will be launched in UK pharmacies

Additionally, the drugs only work as long as you keep taking them, and people have reported gaining back all the weight they lost after stopping the drug, either by choice or due to a shortage.

Deficiencies for diabetics

Perhaps a bigger conversation than side effects for people is about the impact on people who rely on these treatments, they’ve now exploded in popularity as a quick weight loss fix.

Although intended for diabetics, Ozempic and Mounjaro are prescribed “off-label” in the United States to people looking to lose weight.

The drugs faced widespread shortages last year, with reports of diabetics having to drive from pharmacy to pharmacy looking for supplies due to high demand.

Are they available in the UK?

Ozempic and Mounjaro are not licensed in the UK.

Wegovy is available in the UK for type 2 diabetes patients on prescription and it is set to launch in UK pharmacies in spring.

It has been licensed in the UK specifically for weight loss and will be available with a prescription for those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above or a BMI of 27 or above with weight-related health conditions .


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