How Long Does it Take for Weight Loss Drugs to Work?

Over half of people prescribed weight-loss drugs like Saxenda and Wegovy over the past decade stopped taking the medications too early to see any meaningful changes to their health, according to a recent study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

The insurer analyzed the pharmacy and medical claims of 170,000 people between July 2014 and December 2023 and found that 58% didn’t complete a prescribed 12-week course of liraglutide (Saxenda) or semaglutide (Wegovy). Nearly one in three people stopped taking the drugs within a month, which is before the recommended dosage is able to achieve the targeted strength. People need to be on the drugs for at least 3 months to reach the recommended dosages for weight loss. As a result, those who ceased the medication early didn’t get any of the intended benefits of the drug.

“This study underscores how much more we have to learn about these medications,” said Kim Keck, BCBSA’s president and CEO, in a press release. “The science behind these drugs is moving faster than our ability to truly understand which patients will benefit, how to sustain their success and how to pay for them. If we don’t get it right, we will drive up costs for everyone with little to show for it.”

Excerpted from Healthline

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