Anti-obesity drug Wegovy to be sold in Spain starting from tomorrow

The Spanish Agency of Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) has announced that the anti-obesity drug Wegovy (semaglutide) will be available, with a doctor’s prescription, starting from May. It is the same active ingredient as Ozempic, but for patients without diabetes.

30/04/2024 - 11:23 CEST
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Josefa García - Wegovy EN

Josefa García Barrado

Full Professor of Pharmacology and researcher in the Neuroendocrinology and Obesity group at the University of Salamanca

Science Media Centre Spain

Wegovy is actually the same as Ozempic. It contains the same active ingredient (semaglutide), and it is also marketed by the same company. This is nothing new, the therapeutic indications are simply being extended in Spain.  

In the absence of actually useful pharmacological strategies for the treatment of obesity, semaglutide (i.e. Wegovy) has been an important improvement in helping these patients, but it should always be prescribed by a doctor. A pharmacological treatment is useless without the complement of a balanced diet, physical exercise and health supervision. There is no such thing as a miracle drug that causes weight loss without any effort on the user’s part.  

In addition, these drugs have certain adverse effects that users shoult be aware of. That is why they should always be prescribed by a doctor. In the event of a shortage, patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity might be affected the most, but the treatment could be replaced by a wide arsenal of antidiabetic drugs from the same or other families.  

Regarding the shortage issue, it is a commercial success for Novo Nordisk, which still holds the exclusivity patent and, thus, no other company can produce it.  

Tirzapatide (Mounjaro), Lilly's molecule, will try to compete for the indication for obesity. So far, it is only authorized for type 2 diabetes, but it has also demonstrated significant efficacy for weight loss in five randomized and controlled global Phase 3 trials (SURPASS 1-5). 

Of course, the indiscriminate use of Wegovy might, firstly, lead to shortage issues and have a serious impact on those who really need it, and secondly, be a health problem for those who are not supervised by a doctor. The contraindications and adverse effects of these drugs can be serious in some cases, as in acute pancreatitis, although this isn’t a frequent side effect.

The author has declared they have no conflicts of interest
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