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GLP-1 Weight Loss Injection – Miracle Or Mirage?

Written by: Shelley DiAngelo, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Shelley DiAngelo

The swelling demand for the popular GLP-1 injectable medication took Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer, by surprise, causing them to scramble to keep up with the international demand. Navigating the shortage of this drug for weight loss can be challenging for weight loss specialists, who are treating clients with this class of drug.



A drug shortage for weight loss specialists


The uptick in demand for the popular GLP-1 injectable medication took the manufacturers by surprise causing them to scramble to keep up with the international demand. Navigating the shortage of this drug for weight loss can be challenging for weight loss specialists, who are treating clients with this class of drug.


Demand increased in part, due to evidence-based studies touting the efficacy of this medication. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study saying, “Adults who use semaglutide (GLP1) lost an average of 35 pounds, or 15% of their body weight, within 15 months. The medication mimics the hormones that the intestines produce when eating, and together with a relatively safe adverse effect profile, have made this third generation of medication attractive compared with older drugs for those wishing to lose weight.” A high percentage of American’s tip the scale over their ideal body weight helping make this peptide medication a boon for the obesity industry but for many is difficult to obtain.


As a certified diabetes educator, long-time acute and chronic healthcare nurse, and now a mobile wellness business owner, my first contact with a potential new and curious client will always include a disclaimer about this national shortage, the safety requirements, medical qualifications, and the FDA-approved drug versus compounded varieties. One must be flexible about the availability of this drug, along with possible longer delivery times, slower dose changes, and even a delay in initiation of dosing are a prioritized consideration in my discovery consultations with clients.


The obesity epidemic: GLP-1 and its multiple effects are game-changers


Though in existence since 2005, for patients, the GLP-1 receptor agonist medication class has a range of efficacy in different people. There is a trial and error to using any medications for a desired result, and so these longer-acting medications, like Trulicity and Ozempic have fast stepped into the race as a few of the front runners. I remember sitting in a diabetes drug in-service with Novo Nordisk back in the early-20’s learning about this miracle ‘once a week’ drug called, Ozempic, and the positive implications dumbfounded all medical providers in the room. Now, used to prevent the disease, their drug ultimately lowers blood glucose, lowers insulin resistance, and reduces internal organ fat before diagnosis. How exciting!


Even more exciting is the concomitant effect these drugs have on cardiovascular health. If we can help people lose weight, prevent an all-encompassing disease like type 2 diabetes that reaps its harmful effect on the entire body and brain, and protect the heart, this medication class could change the landscape of medical care in so many specialties from cardiology, weight management, and diabetes care.


Affording GLP-1 treatment outside traditional channels


Medical insurer’s coverage still controls the availability, regardless of the high demands and public outcries for this very effective drug. Both the out-of-pocket and insurance coverage costs can shoot up to about $1200 per month for just one dose of this peptide, which can limit access for many people.


If your medical insurance will not cover the medication or it is too costly to pay for through your medical home, concierge, and wellness businesses, like Mile Hydrate Wellness and Esthetics, are looking for creative and affordable ways to help people cover the cost.


Some ways to do this:


  • Manufacturer coupon cards – these coupons can cover cost of lower doses, but still need prior authorization to the insurance company for approval.

  • Researching how your medical doctor can code the diagnosis of diabetes or weight loss – each comes with its cost barriers and medical qualifiers.

  • With a letter of medical necessity, your flexible or health spending account may help to cover the cost

  • Calling local weight loss companies and inquiring about from where they buy their drug supply ask what drugs they use and if compounded by smaller, lesser-known pharmacies or larger, national FDA-approved pharmacies.


None of these avenues will increase the availability of the GLP-1 drugs but will give you a starting point to navigate your personal budget and possibly work with a medical provider outside of your medical home.


The role of the nurse who educates, empowers, and transforms lives


There is a real danger of extreme low blood sugars for anyone on diabetes medications and all other drugs used for weight loss certainly come with a potential for serious side effects. However, because the possible semaglutide adverse side effects are minimal, more people can tolerate the typical lesser symptoms. They work by stimulating the hormones of the gut that help to manage insulin production, stomach emptying, and feelings of satiety in the brain, and so, may cause digestion issues, like nausea, diarrhea or constipation, or abdominal pain. For some people so desperate to lose weight regardless of symptom severity, they will try anything. So, starting on lower doses and slowly increasing can help limit these symptoms while reaching a goal weight. Then with combined lifestyle changes, the weight loss becomes sustainable.


The primary role as a weight loss nurse is to educate about lifestyle changes that help people reach their goals, but to also help them learn tools to sustain their new habits with ease. Weight loss drugs are only as good as the person’s level of motivation and engagement for consistent healthy lifestyle habits, otherwise, for those not willing to make these changes they will see the weight return.


The whole-person approach


Ideally, a whole-person approach is the goal of the weight loss provider, and any good weight loss program should include an individualized plan of care. In other words, helping someone lose weight is the higher goal, but the journey of weight loss must address organ health (heart, kidneys, eyes, liver, vascular, etc.), physical health (daily cardio and strength exercises), mental health (mood, thought patterns, coping skills), and one’s spiritual health (connection with others, faith in a higher being, feelings of inclusion). The entirety of this approach helps sustain the first goal: to lose weight, but ultimately this journey brings confidence, balance, and a revelation of one’s authentic self without the constraints of weight and health issues.


In summary, there is great hope for those carrying the burden of both weight and health issues. And for those who meet the medical qualifications for the GLP-1 medication, this is life-changing. A life-long struggle of excess weight and declining health used to be a death sentence, but now the GLP-1 injectables are a gift of life. A perfect answer for some, along with consistent lifestyle modification and with proper medical guidance, one can achieve a health transformation that is a higher quality and longer life of vitality.


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Shelley DiAngelo Brainz Magazine
 

Shelley DiAngelo, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Shelley DiAngelo is committed to helping reduce the cost of chronic disease and increase the quality and longevity of life from individuals to corporate America with using holistic health options. She specializes in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and internal health and anti-aging from a cellular perspective. With her extensive professional background and many accolades garnered over the years for her substantial contributions to the enhancement and safety of patient care, she has a strong foundation from which to impart her experience as a speaker and educator.


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