the “sting” that drives celebrities (and not) crazy –

StIt looks like a contemporary pact with the devil, which promises a dream of the most transversal of the time: to lose weight, but without dieting. Instead, it is an injectable drug, developed for a decade to treat type 2 diabetes and star, in recent months, of the fight against obesity: it’s called semaglutìde and the pharmaceutical company that patented it, the Danish Novo Nordisk, has seen it double in the last two years its market value. The (cautious) bet of the scientific community is that it can solve the obesity pandemic which, it is estimated, will affect one inhabitant of the planet in two in 2035. In the meantime it is (also) a customary phenomenon: overseas they use it «off-label», that is outside the indications of the technical sheet, Elon Musk (who he admits it), various celebrities (but all of them distance themselves from it) and dozens of influencers, so much so that it is often nowhere to be found in American pharmacies. In the US, in 2022, it was the 129th most prescribed medicine, to 4 million patients.

There is also a neologism: “semaglutìde face”, to indicate the marks on the face that weight loss leaves sudden (nothing new: Catherine Deneuve already spoke of the need, as she gets older, to choose “whether to waste her butt or her face”). The “semaglutìde face” has been challenged on social media, among other things, to Khloé Kardashian who denies it. Elon Musk, with one user asking him why he was so fit, even bragged about it.

The “sting of thinness”— semaglutìde is administered with subcutaneous injections in the abdominal fat — it is due to serendipity. Indicated for type 2 diabetics, it has caused patients to lose weight up to 15%. And it’s from November 2022 a study by New England Medical Journal which compares its effects, on resistant obesity, to bariatric surgery. So many doctors in the United States have started prescribing it even to those who are not obese, nor diabetic, nor pre-diabetic.

Semaglutìde is a glp-1 receptor agonist, a hormone produced by the intestine that stimulates insulin secretion. Improves glycemic control, inhibits hunger and slows down stomach emptying. In short, it makes you lose weight.

Everyone to get it, then, for the costume test? Not at all. In the United States, the best-known drug based on semaglutìde even has a TV commercial complete with a jingle (in Italy, on the other hand, the legislation on drug advertising also prohibits an article like this, for example, from mentioning its name; it is found on TikTok, an indication, among other things, of the almost absence of deontology in information on social networks). In Italy, where some fashion victims get it via the Internet, risking, or through friends in the US, remains a drug that is taken on prescription from the diabetologist. And even if “off label”, “it must be taken under medical supervision.

There are no complete studies on what happens to non-diabetic patients», explains Stefano Herzegovinian, psychiatrist, nutritionist and science communicator. The known effects are diarrhea, nausea, tiredness, vomiting. The interactions with many drugs or with pregnancy are not known. And when you stop using it, the weight comes back. “There is a lot of caution. Forget about taking it to wash down the bacon. On the other hand, he gives hope for the fight against resistant obesity: that is, obesity that resists multidisciplinary treatment, from a nutritionist, psychologist and doctor at the same time».

The cost per hour ranges from 900 to 1,300 dollars per month in the US, in Italy a little less. But the market, writes theEconomist who dedicates his most recent cover to semaglutìde, “he’s infuriating”.
Public health interventions are expected that could lead to larger and therefore less costly production. Amgen, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Eli Lilly are working on similar molecules. Over time, the patents will expire, and the drug, writes the British weekly, “could become as common as anti-cholesterol statins”. In short, the Hollywood revolution could perhaps also reach the poorest classes and countries.

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