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GLP-1 agonists are changing the landscape of achieving optimum weight
Roger Selvage 1141

GLP-1 agonists are changing the landscape of achieving optimum weight

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Today's Perspective

Kristin Wiisanen PharmD, FAPhA, FCCP, Pharmacy Today editor in chief

Kristin Wiisanen PharmD, FAPhA, FCCP Pharmacy Today editor in chief

People are increasingly using GLP-1 receptor agonists such as semaglutide to help facilitate their journey to weight loss and improved health, with a 40-fold increase in semaglutide use over the past 5 years. Studies have demonstrated significantly more weight loss when semaglutide is added to lifestyle interventions as compared with placebo. Success stories are flooding social media, which only increases patient demand. With two-thirds of American adults classified as overweight or obese, these drugs have the potential to decrease the risks of numerous chronic diseases on a large scale.

But are these truly a “magic bullet” for weight loss? This month’s Pharmacy Today cover story weighs in on this question. Experts say yes…and no. On the plus side, GLP-1 agonists act to stimulate insulin production, decrease appetite, and lengthen the feeling of fullness after eating. They can also lead to reduced alcohol consumption and lessen other addictive behaviors in some people. These effects lead to increased weight loss and improved health, and have demonstrated a decrease in CV events in some cases.

However, they have drawbacks. Their high cost, inconsistent insurance coverage, and likely need for lifelong therapy could lead to health disparities between higher- and lower-income populations. Also, there is a potential for rare but serious adverse effects such as pancreatitis. Due to high demand, a worldwide shortage of these agents has flooded the market with counterfeits and increased the need for compounded formulations. Although many compounded forms are identical to commercially available products, they require patients to self-measure their injectable dose—leading to an increased risk for inappropriate dosing and adverse effects.

In this issue of Today, you’ll also find new drug updates, tips for managing motion sickness, and the latest information on the CV effects of ADHD medications. Get an update on the safety of cannabis in pregnancy, whether you should use ChatGPT as part of your MTM processes, catch up on your CPE credit with this month’s article about benefits of pharmacist collaborations with community health workers, and much more.

GLP-1 agonists are here to stay, and pharmacists have an important role in counseling patients on their appropriate use. Educate patients using GLP-1 agonists on their GI adverse effects and how to administer a dose. Stress to patients that while achieving their ideal weight is important, optimal nutrition and physical activity are keys to a healthy lifestyle. Counsel patients on the importance of obtaining compounded formulations from an accredited compounding pharmacy and steps to administer the correct dose.

Have a great Today!

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