The ““slimming syringe”” with the drug semaglutide has been the talk of the town all year. It works like the gut hormone GLP‑1 by increasing the amount of insulin released after a meal, helping to control blood glucose levels. It also reduces appetite and delays gastric emptying. The media were less interested in its use in type 2 diabetics — semaglutide has been approved for this indication in Europe since 2018 under the drug name Ozempic — than in its use as a “lifestyle drug.” This is because, according to studies, with the so-called “weight loss injection,” an average weight reduction of around 15 percent of the initial weight is possible even in non-diabetics.
However, with this figure it is often forgotten that for this success it is not done with the syringe alone: A parallel basic therapy with nutritional, exercise, behavioral interventions is necessary. And those who do not suffer from obesity had better not have too high hopes, because it seems that the weight loss decreases sharply with lower body fat. Moreover, like any drug, semaglutide can have side effects, not to mention as yet unknown long-term consequences.
The media hype also resulted in a supply shortage this year due to off-label use of Ozempic. Likewise, counterfeit products were on the market. Although another semaglutide product with an obesity indication has been approved since early 2022 (trade name Wegovy), it was not available in Germany until July this year.
By now, sematuglide has found an even more successful successor: Tirzepatide (trade name Mounjaro) mimics the effect of two intestinal hormones that influence satiety and sugar metabolism (GLP‑1 and GIP). Tirzepatide appears to be superior to semaglutide in weight loss: severely overweight diabetics lost about 27 percent of their initial weight after 12 weeks of an introductory diet and lifestyle changes with tirzepatide administration over 72 weeks. Tirzepatide has been approved as an antidiabetic since September 2022, and a marketing authorization application has already been submitted for the obesity indication.
Losing pounds in your sleep is not possible even with these drugs, yet they certainly offer unprecedented support. But beware: after a wonderful weight loss, an almost as fast regain could follow. Because if the injection is discontinued, the yoyo effect is not far away even after Sematuglid, Tirzepatid & Co…