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Semaglutide: a new drug for the treatment of obesity
  1. Joel Lexchin12,
  2. Barbara Mintzes34
  1. 1School of Health Policy and Management, York University – Keele Campus, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3School of Pharmacy and Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4The University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Professor Joel Lexchin, School of Health Policy and Management, York University - Keele Campus, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada; jlexchin{at}


Semaglutide (▼Ozempic solution for injection, ▼Rybelsus tablets—Novo Nordisk) was initially granted market authorisation for the treatment of type 2 diabetes as an adjunct to diet and exercise. In 2021 and 2022, regulatory agencies in the USA and Europe licensed semaglutide (▼Wegovy solution for injection—Novo Nordisk) for the treatment of individuals who are obese, or overweight and who have at least one weight-related comorbidity. Manufacturer-sponsored randomised controlled trials have shown a loss of almost 12% of body weight over a 68-week period, however, once the medication is stopped people regain most of their pretreatment weight. Gastrointestinal adverse events occur commonly with semaglutide, and pancreatitis, diabetic retinopathy and severe allergic reactions have also been reported. Extensive hype in social and general media has resulted in increased demand for semaglutide leading to supply problems across the various licensed products including those used for treatment of diabetes. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recommended semaglutide as an option for weight management for a maximum treatment duration of 2 years. Further studies are underway to assess the effect of semaglutide on longer-term health benefits.

  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Obesity

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  • Competing interests None declared. Refer to the online supplementary files to view the ICMJE form(s).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.