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Weight loss drugs safe if used properly, West Palm Beach doctor says

Dr. Brett Osborn says there are side effects associated with Ozempic, Wegovy, Saxenda
FDA warns about compounded versions of popular weight loss drugs
Posted at 12:10 PM, Oct 21, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Journal of the American Medical Association reports some of the most popular drugs available for weight loss, including Ozempic, Wegovy and Saxenda, may be linked to increased risk of severe stomach problems in some people.
The research was published earlier this month and highlights drugs that fall under the category of GLP-1 agonists, which are generally taken by injection and originally were developed to help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar. The drugs rose in popularity once it was discovered they also were good for weight loss.

In August, the company behind Ozempic, Novo Nordisk, was sued for the drug allegedly contributing to a woman's stomach paralysis.

An area neuro surgeon, Dr. Brett Osborn, said when prescribed and used appropriately, there isn't much to worry about.

Dr. Brett Osborn is chief of neurosurgery at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.
Dr. Brett Osborn is chief of neurosurgery at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

"You can get some constipation but the bowel doesn’t really get paralyzed," said Osborn, who is chief of neurosurgery at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. "The medication is just doing what it’s supposed to be doing and again if you have a good medical supervision, the dosages of these medications can be reduced to mitigate that side effect or the other side effects you hear about."

To deal with possible side effects like dehydration and constipation, Osborn recommends patients using Ozempic or similar drugs drink plenty of water, and remember to eat and take laxatives as necessary. He recommends a gallon a day of water.
It also causes some mineral deficiency so people can lose their hair, Osborn said, "one of the problems with Ozempic is that yes you can become relatively malnourished, so they are all encouraged to take a multivitamin and to try to eat."

The drugs reduce hunger.

"These molecules they tell you when to stop eating long and short of it whether it’s Ozempic, whether it's Wagovy, whether it's Saxenda, whether it's Muonjaro, they're all GLP-1 agonists," he said. "You inject these things subcutaneously, so just under the skin, and in essence what you’re doing is you're shutting off your eating."

Weight loss drugs, NBC.jpg
Weight loss drugs include Wegovy.

Osborn spoke about the common diet.

"The standard American diet is laden with simple carbohydrates, so if you can just imagine, just shutting off what we're eating on a daily basis and just minimizing it by 30% to 40%, the diabetes is going to come under much, much more better control."

He noticed some people even at a low dose will develop extreme nausea or they'll develop stomach paralysis, which is just delayed gastric function.

"Some people mistake it and say, 'Oh, my stomach is paralyzed.' No, it is not. It just slows down significantly," he said.

The drugs can be life-changing.

"Although I don't like to use the term miracle, but yes, in my opinion, these medications, if used properly are potentially one of the Holy Grails of medicine," he said. "Why? Think of all the age-related diseases that we deal with, whether it's diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer's disease. They all underpinned by high levels of insulin for dietary choices, poor nutrition and relative lack of exercise."