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Ozempic Isn't Working for Weight Loss in Some Patients—Here's How to Fix That

Doctors offer suggestions for those taking the medication but not seeing results.

Even if you're only skimming the news headlines, chances are you're aware of Ozempic, the injectable weight-loss treatment producing dramatic results for celebrities and average Joes alike. While the medication is actually approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, it is often prescribed off-label to help patients drop stubborn pounds. But even though so many have seen success with this and similar weight-loss drugs, some now say that Ozempic isn't working for them at all.

RELATED: Ozempic Patients Reveal Major Side Effect When You Stop Taking It.

In a new report from The Wall Street Journal, patients explained their experiences with Ozempic and Wegovy. Wegovy is a separate product made by Novo Nordisk but approved for weight loss; it also contains semaglutide, the same active ingredient as Ozempic.

This includes Anthony Esposito, 68, who tried both medications. According to Esposito, Wegovy made him feel sick after a month, prompting him to switch to Ozempic for six weeks. However, nothing changed in terms of his weight during that time.

"It did not budge the needle," Esposito told the WSJ, adding that the drug didn't affect his appetite.

Melissa Traeger, 40, spoke with the outlet about her weight-loss drug journey as well. In her experience, she dropped 10 pounds over six weeks on one of the medications before the weight loss slowed and then stopped altogether.

"There was appetite suppression the first one-and-half months but it's kind of just fallen off after that," Traeger told the WSJ. The outlet did not specify which treatment Traeger was taking but noted that she plans to switch to another glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) drug—the class of medication that also includes Trulicity and Victoza.

In a statement to Best Life, a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk said that "not all patients respond to all therapies," however, the "overwhelming majority" of those taking Wegovy in a semaglutide trial lost weight.

According to the spokesperson, it's unknown why some patients don't respond to treatments like Wegovy and Ozempic. But doctors have a few theories.

RELATED: Ex-Ozempic Patient Shares the Side Effect That Won't Go Away.

Weight-loss drugs target hormones that control appetite, so for those who have obesity due to other factors (besides hormones that play a role in hunger), the drugs won't be as effective, Eduardo Grunvald, MD, FACP, an obesity-medicine physician at UC San Diego Health, told the WSJ.

Some patients may also have genetic mutations that interfere with their response to the GLP-1s, and others may metabolize the treatments too fast, Steven Heymsfield, MD, metabolism and body composition professor at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center, told the WSJ.

Grunvald also pointed to factors like diabetes diagnosis (as those with type 2 diabetes generally lose less weight on these treatments), diet and exercise habits, and drug interactions that stop Ozempic from working.

RELATED: 4 Probiotics That Trigger an Ozempic-Like Weight Loss Effect, Doctors Say.

If people aren't losing weight on Ozempic or Wegovy, doctors will often switch them to a different drug—even an older option—which they then try for three to six months, increasing the dosage over that period. They may also explore genetic testing, as patients who test positive for specific genes may need treatments made for genetically linked obesity, Myra Ahmad, MD, chief executive of telehealth obesity clinic Mochi, told the WSJ.

You should first talk to your doctor if you aren't seeing results—and experts at GoodRx Health recommend looking at your diet and fitness routines, as well as your dosing schedule.

In research studies, higher doses of these medications helped people lose more weight, per GoodRx, and your healthcare provider can help you understand when and if your dose should be adjusted. If it's only been a few weeks and you're not seeing a drastic change on the scale, you might simply need more time. Doctors often start patients on lower doses to mitigate side effects, then work up to a target dose.

Experts at GoodRx point out that timing your medicine is important too, as delaying doses decreases the level of the medication in your body and may affect results. Setting an alarm or a calendar reminder can help with consistency, keeping you on track while working up to that target dose.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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