The demand for weight-loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy has shot through the roof over the course of the last year. That demand, however, comes with some drawbacks, according to a survey by physician social network platform Sermo.
The vast majority of primary care physicians, 89%, said they have seen an uptick in patients asking for prescriptions. Similarly, 92% reported that they have written a prescription for weight-loss drugs during the last year.
But 77% of physicians expressed concern that high demand for such drugs, driven largely by celebrities and influencers, has created unrealistic expectations among patients. Most physicians surveyed noted that patients experienced side effects from the drugs; 65% said their patients stopped taking the drugs due to those side effects.
“Side effects of these medications are not highlighted, which leads patients to then complain when they occur and can ultimately lead to a rebound in weight if they give up on the medicine,” said Dr. Ashish Rana, MD, internal medicine program director and associate chair of academic medicine at Crozer Health, in a statement.
Sermo found that 75% of doctors worry about the prescription of weight-loss drugs by non-traditional healthcare providers, such as MedSpas. That’s because they believe that patients aren’t monitored the way they would be in a regular doctor’s office. They also believe MedSpas aren’t educating patients enough about potential side effects.
More than 70% of endocrinologists expressed concern about MedSpas because they believe such organizations are contributing to ongoing shortages of Wegovy and other semaglutide products.
Sermo also identified concerns among physicians about certain preventive health trends. They include whole-body MRIs, which recently gained popularity among celebrities like Kim Kardashian. In a recent Instagram post, Kardashian touted the benefits of paying thousands of dollars for a Prenuvo full-body scan, claiming it can detect cancer and other diseases at the earliest stages.
More than 42% of the physicians surveyed by Sermo said patients had asked about whole-body scans, but only 23% said they believe such scans are helpful and effective. Among that group, half said a lack of efficacy data prevents them from endorsing full-body scans to patients..
More than half of HCPs said they support biomarker testing, another preventive health diagnostic often used to pinpoint traces of cancer.