Home US Most users of blockbuster weight-loss drugs such as Wegovy quit after three months, as users report debilitating symptoms and high costs.

Most users of blockbuster weight-loss drugs such as Wegovy quit after three months, as users report debilitating symptoms and high costs.

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Many patients stop obesity medications before achieving clinically significant weight loss, or losing at least five percent of their body weight, data suggests

One-third of people who take blockbuster weight-loss drugs like Wegovy quit within the first month, and nearly 60 percent quit after three.

That’s according to a new analysis of weight-loss drug prescriptions for 170,000 overweight and obese adults written from 2014 to early 2024 by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Experts expressed concern about the numbers, saying someone needs to take the drugs for at least 12 weeks to achieve “clinically significant” weight loss, or lose at least five percent of body weight.

The researchers did not investigate why so many people quit smoking early, but it may be due to the wide range of unpleasant side effects that some users report, such as indigestion, nausea and suicidal thoughts, as well as the cost of the medications or difficulty filling prescriptions. . due to frequent shortages.

Many patients stop obesity medications before achieving clinically significant weight loss, or losing at least five percent of their body weight, data suggests

The analysis searched databases for recipes for Saxenda (or liraglutide) and Wegovy (or semaglutide) written between 2014, when Saxenda was first available, and December 2023, the last date available.

Researchers noted an explosion in use, with only 5,717 new prescriptions written for weight-loss drugs in 2020 compared to 120,763 in 2023, a 2,000 percent increase.

The drugs were initially approved for type 2 diabetics, but now the FDA has also cleared many for weight loss, meaning they can be covered by insurance.

Some of the medications are also prescribed off-label for this purpose.

The study did not include prescriptions for tirzepatide, known as Zepbound, because it was not approved for weight loss until November of last year.

He also did not include prescriptions for Ozempic because this medication is not approved for weight loss, but is used off-label for that purpose.

This graph shows how 30 percent of weight loss drug users quit within one month, while 58 percent quit after three months.

This graph shows how 30 percent of weight loss drug users quit smoking within one month, while 58 percent quit after three months.

The graph above shows how prescriptions for weight loss drugs have skyrocketed in the US.

The graph above shows how prescriptions for weight loss drugs have skyrocketed in the US.

All prescriptions were for users who had private health insurance, while those with Medicaid or Medicare were excluded. Patients were followed for up to 180 days.

Overall, patients who received the prescriptions had an average age of 45 years and 79 percent were women.

The analysis found that users under age 35 who had received a prescription from a primary care provider were more likely to quit smoking.

People under 35 were 41 percent less likely to continue taking the medications than those between 35 and 54 years old. They were also 48 percent less likely to continue taking the medications than those in the 55 to 64 age group.

The researchers also found that patients with three or more comorbidities (such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease) were 14 percent less likely to continue for at least 12 weeks than those without underlying conditions.

Razia Hashmi, vice president of clinical affairs at the Association, said: “When patients take medications, we want them to be safe and effective.

‘This study shows that most people are unlikely to see lasting benefits. Unfortunately, losing weight isn’t as simple as getting a prescription.’

There is no specific time period for how long a person should take the medications, although in clinical trials obese patients took the medication for 68 weeks.

Staff at medical spas say people taking the drug can lose up to 1 pound per week until they reach their ideal weight.

But to maintain weight, many encourage people to use medications along with diet and lifestyle changes, such as exercising more and eating healthy.

And separate studies show that many patients who stop taking the medications quickly regain all the weight they’ve lost.

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Researchers at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association did not say why people might stop using the drugs, but it could be because of the unpleasant side effects that users report.

Clinical trials showed that 43 percent of semaglutide (the drug in Wegovy) users suffer from nausea, while 30 percent suffered from diarrhea.

In more worrying cases, patients have also reported hair loss while taking the medications and stomach pains worse than those during childbirth caused by pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas.

At the same time, the drugs are expensive: A monthly supply of Ozempic costs $936 out-of-pocket in the United States, 1,300 percent more than in countries like the United Kingdom and France, where a prescription costs up to $93.

Most major insurance companies cover Wegovy prescriptions for weight loss, but patients may still have to foot the bill for co-pays.

Weight-loss drugs have also been repeatedly hit by shortages: The FDA database currently shows that three of the five doses of Wegovy are not widely available.

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