Although the popular weight loss drug Wegovy was approved for use in Canada in 2021, Novo Nordisk’s supply shortage left Canadians high and dry. 

After years of waiting, our turn has come: Wegovy is now available in Canada. Unlike Ozempic, Wegovy is not a diabetes medication; it’s made to treat obesity.

With over eight million Canadians living with obesity and only four weight loss medications that aren’t made to treat diabetes, Wegovy is in high demand. 

Novo Nordisk said in a press release that it will work with healthcare providers to assess the needs of Canadians to ensure patients are able to stay on the drug as long as needed, hopefully avoiding another shortage. 

It contains semaglutide, the famous medication in Ozempic. The drug is classified as a GLP-1, a hormone that helps manage blood sugar, slows digestion, and makes you feel fuller for longer. It mimics the natural GLP-1 hormone created in the gut.

Using Wegovy

Wegovy is a once a week injection, much like its sibling Ozempic. Not only does semaglutide help with weight loss, it also reduces risk of stroke, heart attack, or death in adults who are obese with heart disease. 

Although impressive, semaglutide is not a cure for obesity. Just taking Wegovy by itself is not enough to start shedding pounds. To see results, users will need to eat a reduced calorie diet and keep active.

Don’t know where to start? Read The Health Insider’s article: How to Stick to Your Health Goals and Say No To Quitters Day.

The STEP clinical trial found that participants taking Wegovy lost on average 15 per cent of their body weight. 

There is no set duration for use, but researchers found that on average, users regain two thirds of their body weight when they stop taking the drug. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise post-Wegovy to hang on to results. 

As of publishing date, Wegovy costs $4,726 per year. Classified as a weight loss drug, Wegovy will not be covered by provincial insurance. It may be covered by your private insurance plan, but it’s unlikely as very few private plans in Canada cover obesity medications. Talk to your provider for details. 

Side Effects and Exclusions

Novo Nordisk lists common side effects for Wegovy as: 

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach (abdomen) pain
  • Headache
  • Tiredness (fatigue)
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling bloated
  • Belching/Gas
  • Low blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes
  • Stomach flu
  • Heartburn
  • Runny nose or sore throat.

Don’t take Wegovy if you or family members have/had medullary thyroid carcinoma or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2. Do not take it if you are (or are planning to become) pregnant. 

Wegovy can cause thyroid tumours in rats, but it is yet to be seen in people – check yourself regularly for lumps/swelling in your neck and report symptoms to your doctor immediately. Also report trouble swallowing and shortness of breath as they can be symptoms of thyroid cancer.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your weight loss goals to learn more about how Wegovy can work for you.

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