Higher doses of semaglutide aid weight loss in Indians too: Lancet study

Semaglutide for diabetes and weight loss: FIT speaks to study researchers to learn more.


Semaglutide for weight loss: Lancet study researcher talks to FIT



Semaglutide for weight loss: Lancet study researcher talks to FIT

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Higher doses of semaglutide may help lower blood sugar levels and help with weight loss, finds a new study published in THE Hand.

Currently, the highest approved dose of oral semaglutide prescribed is 14 mg.

The study shows that the drug is useful and safe in even higher doses of 25 mg and 50 mg, one of the study’s principal investigators told FIT.

The study is also the first to include Indian subjects as a caveat.

SUITED speak to Dr KP Singh, director of endocrinology at Fortis Hospital Mohali and the researcher on this study.

Benefits and side effects: what the study found

Talking with SUITED on some of the key parameters of the study, says Dr. KP Singh,

  • The study was conducted over five years.

  • It was a multinational study conducted in nine countries in Asia, Europe and North America, including India.

  • The study involved 709 participants of which 216 participants were from India.

  • Pregnant and nursing women were excluded from the study.

  • Study participants were given one tablet once a day for 68 weeks, along with a lifestyle intervention.

  • This is the first time high doses of semaglutide (25 mg and 50 mg) have been tested in clinical trials.

Prior to this, we’ve only used up to 14mg, even in trials. And the drug in this dose has shown weight loss of 5 to 8%, along with blood sugar control in diabetic patients.

  • This study found that the drug in higher doses could help with up to 15 percent weight loss over a 68-week period.

  • More than two-thirds of study participants achieved at least 10 percent weight loss.

And the side effects?

The study found that about 92 percent of study participants experienced adverse effects, compared with 86 percent in the placebo group.

Adverse effects, according to the study authors, were primarily mild to moderate gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea and nausea.


Is Semaglutide available in India?

Although injectable semaglutide (the most popular type is Ozempic) is not available in India, oral semaglutide has been available in India for over a year. It is available in strengths of 3 mg, 7 mg and 14 mg.

However, they are only prescribed for specific cases of diabetes.

For one, semaglutide in India can only be prescribed by an endocrinologist, according to the Drugs Control General of India. Also, they can only be prescribed to treat uncontrolled type 2 diabetes in adults.

Also, oral semaglutide pills are not cheap in India, priced at Rs 300 per pill. Considering you have to take the pill every day, the bill could be as high as Rs 10,000 a month.

People at risk of pancreatitis and kidney impairment should not be prescribed this drug, even if they fit the patient profile.

Semaglutides for weight loss

In India, the drug, in both injectable and oral forms, is not approved for weight loss in people who don’t have diabetes.

“Some people take it off the label, but we can’t prescribe them by law,” says Dr. Singh.

However, the positive results of studies like this warrant its approval, he adds.

Since the whole frenzy around Ozempic and semaglutides for weight loss started online, its demand has increased. But experts are cautious.

In addition to kidney damage, semaglutide has also been linked to a possible increase in thyroid tumors, hypoglycemia and allergic reactions.

According to experts, that SUITED he spoke, because of these possible side effects, using it just for weight loss just doesn’t seem to be worth the risk.

Although, Dr. Singh says, “we didn’t see hypoglycemia in our study participants.”

Dr. Singh believes we are only scratching the surface when it comes to the potential benefits of semaglutide. However, they remain to be tested in clinical trials.

“We are also testing semaglutide in other ailments such as cardiovascular problems and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It’s too early to tell, but they are showing promise,” says Dr. Singh.

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