Ozempic is STILL less effective at burning fat and way more expensive in the long run than weight loss surgery, study finds

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Semaglutide weight-loss drugs were found to cost $53,000 over five years
  • Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) came to less than $20,000
  • READ MORE: Leading doctor warns of deadly side effects of Ozempic

They have been hyped up as an antidote to America’s obesity crisis – but weight loss drugs like Ozempic are still more expensive and less effective than plain old surgery.

The injections were found to cost twice as much and lead to about four percent less weight loss compared to an operation that’s been around for years.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that weight-loss drugs containing semaglutide cost more than $53,000 over five years, compared to a ‘stomach stich’  which came to less than $20,000. 

The operation, where part of the stomach is stitched up to make it smaller, was also found to be more effective at sustaining the most weight loss after five years – people’s BMI after the weight-loss surgery was 31.7 compared to 33.0.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that weight-loss drugs containing semaglutide cost more than $53,000 over five years, compared to a ‘stomach stich’ surgery which came to less than $20,000

Researchers said the price of Ozempic and similar drugs would need to be reduced three-fold, from $13,618 to $3,591, for it to be the preferred option.

Semaglutide has become popular due to its noninvasiveness, ease of use as a weekly injection, and short-term effectiveness, the researchers said. 

An endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), on the other hand, is a one-time procedure that can be repeated a few years later, if the stomach has stretched or stitches have loosened.

ESG is a minimally invasive weight-loss procedure which reduces the size of the stomach without the need for an incision through the skin.

TV celebrity Stacey Silva had the procedure and reality star Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson is also due to undergo the surgery.

The study compared ESG with semaglutide to treat patients with class two obesity, which means they had a BMI of 35-39.9, over five years. 

The base case they looked at was a 45-year-old patient with a BMI of 37. They then used publicly available data from clinical trials to simulate other hypothetical patients.

The researchers simulated two treatment strategies – semaglutide and ESG – versus no treatment.

An ESG is done using a flexible tube passed down through the throat with a camera attached, and then a surgeon closes off a portion of the stomach with stitches.

This reduces the size which restricts how much someone can eat.

The model incorporated costs of ESG, repeat ESG and the costs of treating possible adverse events after the surgery, which could temporary stomachache, nausea and vomiting.

As with any type of surgery, there are also very small risks of serious complications from the operation itself. These can include bleeding, infection and tears in the stomach. 

A meta-analysis of studies found that rate of adverse effects ranged from 1.5 percent to 2.3 percent. 

For Ozempic, researchers calculated the monthly cost of semaglutide, which is around $1,000 a month.

An endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty usually costs between $7,000 and $9,000, according to Bagshahi Bariatric and General Surgery in Texas. Health insurance may cover part of the cost if the person is clinically obese.

Semaglutide is a once-weekly injection that works by delaying the emptying of the stomach, which leads to patients feeling fuller for longer and a decreased overall appetite.

The shots can trigger a variety of nasty side effects. Users commonly complain of nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. 

In one study, some 15.8 percent of patients using Ozempic suffered nausea, 7.3 percent abdominal pain and 8.5 percent diarrhea. 

In more serious cases, the drug has been shown to increase the risk of a paralyzed stomach, pancreatitis and bowel blockages. 

Patients need to stay on the medication for life, and as they can regain any weight loss if they stop taking it.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Network. 

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