What is Semaglutide? 

The Food and Drug Administration has approved semaglutide for the treatment of obesity in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 27 who have comorbidities such as hypertension or dyslipidemia, or those who are obese (BMI of over 30). It's a strong selective GLP-1 receptor agonist that has shown to reduce hunger and increase fullness in individuals with high BMI. Semaglutide is one of the weight loss drugs available from an Alfie physician for weight reduction or a weight-related health issue.

Individuals with a personal or family history of MTC, or patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), should not take semaglutide.

Brand Name and Class

Semaglutide is a synthetic peptide that mimics the natural hormone GLP-1 in the body. Semaglutide modulates stomach emptying, making you feel fuller after eating. It also slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the circulation, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus all include it in their brand-name medicines.

How it works

GLP-1 is a hormone produced by your body that regulates hunger and food intake in the brain. Semaglutide acts like GLP-1, reducing your appetite and how much food you eat in order to help you lose weight.

Glucagon like GLP-1s activates the pancreas to create insulin after meals in order to lower blood sugar levels. They also bind to receptors in the brain, where they act as a natural appetite suppressant by releasing chemicals that reduce your desire to eat. GLP-1s are naturally occurring chemicals, but their effects do not last long inside a human body. That's why it's possible for GLP-1s to help you lose weight while your body is already producing them on its own.

Is this prescription effective for weight loss? 

The ability of semaglutide to help you lose weight rapidly and safely has been proved in clinical research, with participants losing an average of 15% of their initial body weight when combined with a calorie-restricted diet and increased activity, as compared to those who took a placebo.‍

With lifestyle changes such as exercise or diet, people who took semaglutide have lost up to 15% of their body weight on average in studies.

How much does semaglutide cost?

Semaglutide may be an expensive medication, with an out-of-pocket cost above $1,000. Alfie works with the vast majority of commercial and employer insurance plans in order to get coverage for your doctor-prescribed medication.

Semaglutide is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

How is semaglutide administered?

Semaglutide is taken via a once-a-week injection when taking Ozempic or Wegovy and via a one daily oral tablet when taking Rybelsus. However, don’t think you’re going to have to use a syringe and needle to take Ozempic or Wegovy. Everything comes pre-packaged in a simple to use, virtually painless tool.

Understanding your dosage

Wegovy comes in 5 different dose strengths. You start Wegovy at a dose of 0.25 mg once a week and increase the dose every 4 weeks until you reach the full dose of 2.4 mg. It’ s important to follow the dosing schedule as recommended by your health care provider.

Ozempic comes in 3 different dose strengths. You start Ozempic at a dose of 0.25 mg once a week and increase the dose every 4 weeks until you reach the full dose of 1 mg. It’ s important to follow the dosing schedule as recommended by your health care provider.

Rybelsus also comes in 3 different dose strengths. You start Rybelsus at a 3 mg dose once a day and increase the dose after 30 days to 7 mg or 14 mg. It’s important to follow the dosing schedule as recommended by your health care provider.

Potential Side Effects

Side effects of GLP-1 medications are extremely rare and over 95% of individuals who take these medications do not experience side effects. In those that do, nausea is often the most common and typically resolves within the first month of being on the medication.

Other potential side effects of semaglutide include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, headache, fatigue, dyspepsia, dizziness, abdominal distention, eructation, hypoglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes, flatulence, gastroenteritis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Alternative Medications

Semaglutide is one of the multiple GLP-1 weight-loss classes of drugs. Other GLP-1 drug classes include: