Who can take Wegovy weight loss injections?
Note pad and measuring tape  

Could Wegovy help you to lose weight?

 

Yes, if you meet the criteria and other weight loss methods haven't worked, like exercising and eating a balanced diet. Studies have shown ~15% weight loss sustained over 2 years when taking Wegovy alongside a reduced calorie diet and increased physical exercise.

 

Who can take Wegovy

 

Wegovy weight loss injections contain the active ingredient semaglutide. Semaglutide has also been used to treat type 2 diabetes. However, when used for the purposes of weight loss, there are other criteria you need to meet to be suitable.

Eligibility to buy Wegovy depends on your body mass index (BMI) measurement and whether or not you have developed illnesses associated with being overweight or obese.

 

Your BMI

 

Your BMI is calculated by measuring your height and weight, your height is then divided by your weight. A BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered an ideal, healthy BMI for most adults.

To qualify for Wegovy your BMI must be above 30 which is a weight classed as obese. You may also be considered for this weight loss drug if you are overweight with a BMI of 27 or over and you have a weight-related illness such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

 

Weight-related illnesses

 

Those who are overweight or obese may have or are at risk of developing serious health conditions. This is an important factor in determining who is suitable for weight loss medication.

Reducing your risk of developing conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease is a major benefit and driving force of Wegovy. When a reduced calorie diet and exercise haven’t reduced your weight, Wegovy is another piece of armour against obesity.

So, there must be one or more comorbidities related to obesity in order to qualify for Wegovy.

 

Who should not take Wegovy

 

There are some limitations on the usage of Wegovy. As we’ve established, if your BMI is below 30 with no weight-related comorbidities, you should not take Wegovy. Wegovy can be a positive life-changing medicine when used correctly.

The limitations are around age, and if you are taking any other medicines or have any other health conditions.

Here are some factors that may make you unsuitable for Wegovy.

 

Age restrictions

 

Data around safety, efficacy and general experience are limited in children, young adults and the elderly. Therefore, Wegovy is only prescribed to adults aged between 18 and 75.

 

Pregnancy

 

If you’re pregnant you should not take Wegovy. Again, there is limited data on the use of semaglutide in pregnant women. Studies have shown reproductive toxicity when tested on animals. You should use contraception whilst taking Wegovy to prevent pregnancy. However, if you do become pregnant whilst taking Wegovy, discontinue use and speak to your doctor.

If you are already taking semaglutide and decide you want to become pregnant you should think about when you are going to start trying. When you know this you can plan when you should stop taking semaglutide and this should be 2 months before trying to become pregnant to ensure the drug is out of your body and cannot harm your unborn baby.

Guidance on breastfeeding is the same as pregnancy, you should avoid taking semaglutide as animal testing found that this drug can be excreted through milk which could potentially harm your breastfeeding child.

Speak to your GP about safer weight management methods during breastfeeding, alongside increasing your physical activity and eating a reduced-calorie diet.

 

Allergies

 

Any medicine you take has a risk of a severe allergic reaction. Having an allergy to semaglutide or any of the other ingredients in Wegovy is an important reason why you can’t take this medicine as the reaction can be so severe and even life-threatening.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat
  • A rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Problems with breathing or swallowing

Any minor or severe reactions should be reported, along with discontinuing use and seeking medical help immediately.

 

Conflicting medications

 

Before starting any new medication you’ll need to ensure that it doesn’t interact with any other medicines you may currently be taking to avoid them interacting and causing unpleasant side effects.

If you’re taking other medicines, it doesn't mean you’re unsuitable for Wegovy. But it can affect how some medicines work and vice versa. It’s important to inform your prescriber of your current medication before starting Wegovy. Whether that's prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or even herbal supplements.

You can’t take Wegovy if you’re taking other weight loss medicines that work in the same way or if you’re taking diabetes medication such as insulin or sulfonylureas. This includes other GLP-1 receptor agonists like Ozempic, Saxenda or Victoza.

  Man injecting insulin into his stomach  

Other medical conditions

 

As with drug interactions, Wegovy can also cause complications if taken whilst certain health conditions are present. Informing your prescriber of any health conditions can help reduce complications.

As well as pregnancy and allergies, other conditions or circumstances mean you are unsuitable for this drug.

Thyroid problems

One of the more serious side effects of Wegovy is the development of thyroid tumours including cancerous tumours. Whilst animal testing revealed this side effect, it's not known if Wegovy causes these tumours in people. This means that if you are more at risk of developing thyroid tumours because you or your family member have had a type of thyroid cancer known as medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or if you have an endocrine system condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), you cannot take Wegovy.

 

Kidneys and pancreas

 

It’s important to tell your prescriber if you’ve ever had problems with your kidneys or pancreas. Some of the severe side effects of Wegovy include kidney failure and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), although rare, it’s important to take caution with Wegovy in those who are more at risk of developing these side effects.

 

Diabetes

 

As we mentioned earlier, diabetes medication can interact with semaglutide. It's risky to take semaglutide in combination with insulin or sulfonylurea, as blood glucose levels can drop dangerously low. This is known as hypoglycaemia.

As well as this, if you have a complication of diabetes known as diabetic retinopathy (a condition that damages the retina of the eye and potentially causes blindness due to unmanaged high blood sugar levels), taking Wegovy may worsen this condition. It may be possible to take Wegovy if you have diabetic retinopathy but it would require close monitoring by your healthcare provider.

 

Mental health issues

 

Wegovy may affect your mood. Therefore, if you're feeling low, suicidal or have frequent mood changes due to a mental illness, Wegovy may not be suitable.

Likewise, if you’ve never suffered from mental health issues but you develop low mood, depression, suicidal thoughts or any other sudden changes in behaviour or thoughts and feelings as a side effect of this medication, stop taking Wegovy and seek urgent medical help.

  Woman exercising with weights  

Generally, a person needs to be obese and struggle with weight management to be accepted. If this is causing you to be at serious risk of developing weight-related conditions or you already have an existing comorbidity, this makes you a good candidate for using Wegovy. Providing, of course, you are also exercising regularly and eating a low-calorie diet and none of the above exclusions apply to you.

 
Laura Shillcock - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 28 July 2023
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