Miracle drug? What to know about using diabetes medications for weight loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. The new drugs are being touted as magic pills that give hope to people who have struggled with weight issues all their lives, but there are some serious questions to ask.

Three new injectable drugs developed for patients with type 2 diabetes are also helping people lose weight. In some cases, they help people lose a lot of weight.

The drugs are in such high demand that they made a combined profit of nearly $10 billion dollars last year. They are expected to do even more this year.

New options

Husband and wife Jarryd and Amber Lasater said they have struggled to reach a healthy weight.

We would lose a little here, a little there. It never really stalled, Amber Lasater said. So for me, I was at the point if I lost 20 pounds, I’d be happy.

Ten months ago, their doctor put them on the injectable diabetes drug Mounjaro.

They say it was the turning point for them. Amber has now lost 65 lbs. Jarryd lost almost twice as much during the treatment.

I’ve never weighed it in my adult life, Jarryd Lasater said.

Katie Davidson has struggled with her weight after thyroid surgery. She says she ate healthy, counted calories, cut portions. She stays active by running after two children and working on the family farm.

I think there’s a lot more to weight gain and obesity than calories in than calories out, because it just didn’t add up, Davidson said.

Then he started taking a drug called Semaglutide. You’ve heard it advertised as Ozempic.

I think I lost 10 pounds last month, Davidson said.

Advertisements for the three injectable drugs for type 2 diabetes claim they are changing the world of weight loss.

Wegovy was approved for weight loss two years ago. Ozempic and Mounjaro are on track to gain FDA approval for weight loss this year, but doctors are already prescribing them off-label.

How do they work

They all work similarly.

They all work by making you feel a little fuller, so they slow down your digestion, so they keep you from overeating, said Dr. Erin Taylor, University Health.

The feeling of fullness is what patients say they notice the most when taking one of the medications.

I wasn’t hungry. He’s been an appetite suppressant for me more than anything and I didn’t need to eat as much, said Jarryd Lasater.

Staff at University Health Weight Management say these drugs aren’t a quick fix for shedding a few pounds. Instead, they are a long-term treatment for people with chronic obesity and comorbidities.

Some patients, like Jarryd, lose weight quickly. Others, like Katie, take longer to lose weight.

You really have to persevere and be patient because I almost gave up. I was like, this is expensive. This does not work. Is it really worth it? and I thought, well, I’ll keep trying and see what happens, said Davidson.


The drugs are expensive. Doctors say the price depends on your diagnosis and your health insurance.

They are all expensive. Most of them cost over $1,000 for a month’s supply, if you pay cash for it. Insurance, if it covers it, makes it pretty manageable, you know, copays are less than $100 and coupons can reduce it to $25 or I’ve seen $0 as well, so yeah, a lot of times we reduce it to $0 for a patient for these drugs, Taylor said.

Side effects

Doctors also warn of side effects.

Side effects include just your main gastrointestinal side effects, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation is what you’ll expect with that, but they get better after you’ve been at it a bit longer, so let your body get used to it to it, Taylor said.

Some side effects such as kidney or gallbladder problems are rare, but have also been reported.

Yes, it ruined my gallbladder. They say it’s pretty normal for anyone with rapid weight loss, which can mess up your gallbladder, so mine decided to get flaky and I had to have it removed, said Amber Lasater.

Even with the price and side effects, all three say it’s worth it. They say they’ve lost weight, but have also seen improvements in cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and joint pain. All three say they exercise more and sleep better.

I’m starting to recognize myself in the mirror again. It was good, Davidson said.

All three say the weight loss has motivated them to build habits to keep the weight off forever.

I’m also working out three to four times a week on the treadmill. We’ve both changed our diets, so hopefully it’s not something that will come back very quickly, Jarryd Lasater said.

They say that even if they have to continue taking a low dose of the drug long-term, they finally feel some hope.

I’ve talked to many people and I always tell people, “If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, I want people to understand that because it’s life changing,” said Amber Lasater.

Questions to ask

There are questions to ask your doctor before agreeing to take the drug.

  • Risks of other health problems you face due to obesity
  • Will the medications interact with any medications you are already taking?
  • Discuss your personal and family health history


Supply shortages are also a problem. Pharmacists say it’s a problem with many drugs right now, not just these three injectables. Experts, such as Dr. Taylor, expect production of the drugs to ramp up this year to meet demand.

FOX4 also asked if using these weight-loss drugs prevents people diagnosed with diabetes from getting them.

Medical staff from the university’s Health Weight Management said if patients with chronic obesity don’t lose weight while taking their medications, they have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes. If that happens, they’ll still have need the drug, so it comes to disease prevention.

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