Semaglutide: Can an Injection Make You Lose Weight?

Semaglutide is available in India, and can be prescribed by a doctor, but only for treating type 2 diabetes.

3 min read
Hindi Female

Wouldn't it be great if you could just pop a pill, or take an injection that made you lose weight?

Semaglutide, a self-administered injection, may do just this. The FDA-approved drug was cleared for distribution in the UK by the National Health Service (NHS) in February 2022, to treat obesity.

The Drugs Regulator Controller General of India (DGCI) approved the use of oral semaglutide to treat type-2 Diabetes in 2020.

The first ever oral formulation of semaglutide was launched in India in January 2022, by Novo Nordisk.

So is semaglutide really a miracle weight loss drug? Can you shed the kilos by simply popping a pill or taking an injection?


The Science Behind Semaglutide

Semaglutide works on a very simple premise. It imitates glucagon or glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) which is the hormone that tells your body that you're full. Semaglutide injections or pills simulate the feeling of fullness, leading to lower appetite and better regulated food intake.

Semaglutide is an anti-diabetic drug. It's a medicine that causes good sugar control and weight loss. Its prescribed for people with diabetes or people who are on the heavier side.
Dr. Dheeraj Kapoor, Chief of Endocrinology, Artemis Hospitals

In the simplest terms, semaglutide makes individuals feel fuller and eat less. If the amount of food you're eating reduces enough to create a calorie deficit, you end up losing weight.

A 2021 double-blind study of 1961 people, found that individuals who were given one semaglutide injection every week lost 12% more weight than a placebo group, over a test period of 68 weeks.

Both groups were put on a reduced calorie diet and given the same exercise routine to follow. The group that was given semaglutide lost 14.9% weight compared to the placebo group which only lost 2.4%.

Can You Get Semaglutide in India?

Yes, you can get semaglutide in India. But it won't be easy or cheap. Semaglutide prescriptions can only be made by an endocrinologist, as per the DCGI.

Further, they're only prescribed to treat type-2 Diabetes.

Finally, semaglutide in its oral form is not cheap. At over Rs. 300 a pill, and a daily dosage requirement, it's likely to set you back by almost Rs 10,000 a month.

Couple all these facts with the 12% weight loss margin between the group that took semaglutide and the group that took a placebo, and the question isn't just "Can you get semaglutide in India?" or "Should you use it to lose weight?", it's really, "Is this the best option for you to lose weight?"

Further, the investment in semaglutide would benefit most individuals far more if invested in a fitness routine and healthy diet plan.

TL;DR: If you're physically able to eat healthier and get regular exercise, and if your doctor says it's alright, that may be a better option than medical intervention.


Cautions of Semaglutide

Semaglutide is not a miracle drug. It's not a weight-loss pill. The only effectiveness it has shown is in tandem with a reduced-calorie diet and a fitness routine.

"Semaglutide will not be prescribed for someone with a family history of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma. It is also not recommended to use it as a "weight-loss drug". I would not prescribe it as a weight loss drug alone for anyone. It's only if they have diabetes."
Dr Dheeraj Kapoor, Chief of Endocrinology, Artemis Hospitals

Further, it's only prescribed for people suffering from type-2 Diabetes, and not type-1 Diabetes. Its prescription for overweight people is often only made if the individual suffers from co-morbidities like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Apart from these caveats, semaglutide has also been linked a possible increase in thyroid tumours and pancreatitis. For this reason, semaglutide use comes with heavy cautions.

Contact your doctor if you experience any constipation, vomiting, stomach pain, fever, or lightheadedness.

The final caution would be one linked to your weight loss itself. Most people in the semaglutide study showed an increase in appetite after stopping semaglutide. This could lead to a return to unhealthy eating habits if you don't incorporate the right lifestyle changes in tandem.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Medicine   Weight Loss   Drugs 

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