The medication Ozempic has been described as a “game changer” for people looking to lose weight by a leading public health expert.
The drug has previously been used to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels.
However, it is now being used to help people who want to lose weight to suppress their appetite.
Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “wonder drug” and said it had helped him “effortlessly” decline puddings and second helpings.
Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, Assistant Adjuvant Professor for Public Health and Primary Care at Trinity College Dublin Brendan O’Shea said the drug could have a transformative impact in the years ahead.
“These medications, in my view, will be game changers,” he said.
“They will make a substantial difference; access to bariatric surgery is another part of the solution but we see these medications coming in before that.
“If we’re effective at delivering the supply to people who need it, then hopefully the demand for bariatric surgery will reduce.”
According to the HSE, just 37% of Irish adults have a ‘normal’ weight, while 23% are officially classed as obese.
People who are obese have a much higher chance of developing serious health conditions and Dr O’Shea said the health service has an obligation to help them.
“We have to do as doctors, what the State has to do as a provider of medication, we have to ensure that the right people are getting access to the right medication in the right way at the right time,” he said.
“Particularly, our interest and concern has to be on making the medication available to people who are significantly unwell with progressive overweight and that arguably is as many as 10% of the population.
“Two-thirds of Irish adults are, technically, significantly overweight or obese and the suffering the 10% experience is absolutely dreadful.”
A surge in global demand for the ‘wonder’ drug has seen supply shortages that are expected to continue into 2024.
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