Wegovy Ozempic alterxxnative in the UK

Ozempic UK: Everything you need to know about GLP-1 weight-loss injections in the UK

6th June 2024 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

Whether it’s Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro or the other GLP-1 weight-loss injections, here’s everything you need to know about how they work, the side effects and where to buy in the UK


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What is Ozempic?

How does Ozempic work?

What are the side effects?

How much does it cost?

Where to buy in the UK

While Ozempic has been in the headlines for well over a year, after countless American celebrities have confirmed or been rumoured to be on the weight-loss drug, the trend has now well and truly arrived in the UK.

Following research from the European Congress of Obesity (ECO) that found taking semaglutide – the active ingredient in the weight loss injections Ozempic and Wegovy – could reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death due to cardiovascular disease by 20%, searches for ‘Ozempic’ exploded 865% in the UK. According to Google Trends analysis by Simple Online Pharmacy.

The surge in popularity is also due to the fact there’s a rising number of services selling the drugs privately, and because they promise you can lose as much as 20% of your weight in a matter of months.

But is Ozempic too good to be true?

In this guide we’ll explain everything you need to know about the weight-loss drugs from how they work to their side effects and where you can buy them.

This guide should not be used as medical advice. Please consult a doctor or professional before starting any new medical treatment. 

What is Ozempic UK?

How does Ozempic work for weight lossShutterstock

Before we continue, we should highlight that Ozempic isn’t the drug, it’s a brand name. It’s part of a group of diabetes and weight-loss medications that use drugs known as GLP-1 agonists. 

GLP-1 – which stands for glucagon-like peptide-1 – is a hormone produced in the gut that plays a crucial role in how your body metabolises glucose from food.

Here’s how it works:

  1. When you eat, your intestines release the hormone GLP-1 into your bloodstream.
  2. It then travels through your blood and finds special “docking stations” called GLP-1 receptors on certain cells.
  3. When the hormone attaches to these receptors, it turns them on. This sends a signal to the cell to start doing certain jobs.
  4. In your pancreas, these signals tell the cells to release more insulin, and less glucagon to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and under control.
  5. In your stomach, GLP-1 slows down how quickly food leaves your stomach. This makes you feel full longer.
  6. In your brain, GLP-1 helps reduce your appetite, so you feel less hungry.

By doing all these things, GLP-1 helps keep your blood sugar levels steady and can help with weight loss.

How does Ozempic work?

GLP-1 weight loss medications comparisonBoots

Drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy and more have been designed to mimic GLP-1 and activate your GLP-1 receptor, even if you haven’t just eaten.

This is why they began life as treatments for type 2 diabetes, which is a condition where a patient’s blood sugar is too high and their body doesn’t produce enough insulin to balance it out.

There are several approved GLP-1 drugs, each with different dosages and uses. Some are used for diabetes, while others are prescribed specifically to help with weight loss in people with obesity. Here are the most common:

  • Semaglutide: Marketed as Ozempic for type 2 diabetes, and Wegovy for weight loss.
  • Liraglutide: Sold under the brand name Victoza for diabetes, and Saxenda for weight loss.
  • Tirzepatide: Available as Mounjaro for diabetes, and Zepbound for weight loss.
  • Dulaglutide: Known as Trulicity for type 2 diabetes.
  • Exenatide: Marketed as Byetta for diabetes, and Bydureon for an extended-release form.

Most of these GLP-1 drugs are administered via injection, but semaglutide is available in tablet form as Rybelsus for diabetes management.

How do they help with weight loss?

how to get rid of cellulie and cellulite treatmentShutterstock

Below we explain the benefits of each of GLP-1’s actions and how these can lead to weight loss.

1. Stimulates insulin/Inhibits glucagon

Insulin is the hormone that helps move sugar (glucose) from your bloodstream into your cells. Moving sugar into the cells is important because it gives your cells the energy they need to work properly. This keeps your metabolism working well, and it can also help with fatigue and mood swings.

How does this help with weight loss? By helping the body use glucose more effectively, GLP-1 makes sure less sugar is stored as fat, helps your body metabolise food better, and gives you energy to exercise and move more. The same goes for inhibiting the release of glucagon. By stopping your body from raising blood sugar levels higher than it needs, it gives insulin a better chance at keeping levels under control.

2. Slows down digestion

GLP-1 slows the emptying of food from your stomach. This means food takes longer to pass through your digestive system, which helps you feel full for longer.

How does this help with weight loss?  When you feel full for longer, you’re less likely to eat between meals or overeat, which helps in managing your overall calorie intake.

3. Reduces appetite

GLP-1 affects hunger signals in the brain which lowers your your appetite. This means you feel less hungry and are less likely to crave food or snack.

How does this help with weight loss? A lower appetite means less desire to eat, which can help in controlling how many calories you’re eating.

What are the side effects of Ozempic, Wegovy and more? 

What causes ageing or agingGetty Images/iStockphoto

The most common side effects include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • “Ozempic face”

The exact causes for each side effect is not known, and not everyone has these side effects but they’re typically linked to a number of factors:

  • Eating foods high in sugar and fat, or simply eating too much, can cause your body to go into overdrive. This is because your body’s natural GLP-1 hormone kicks in, at the same time as the drug’s GLP-1 hormone is doing its thing. It’s almost like your blood sugar is processed too quickly and this can leave you feeling queasy, or sick.
  • Similarly, if your stomach is still full but you keep eating, this can make you feel sick. In the same way you would if you simply ate too much.
  • When people start using Ozempic, Wegovy or similar their appetite and food choices can change. This can see them increase the amount of fibre they eat, as one example. Eating more fibre, especially if you’re not increasing your water intake, can lead to constipation.
  • When you lose a lot of weight quickly, your skin doesn’t have time to adjust. This can lead to sagging skin on your body and face. It can also leave your face looking more gaunt facial. This isn’t a side effect of the drug per se, it’s a side effect of how well they work.

How long do Ozempic side effects last?

Weight-loss side effects last for a few weeks, usually, until your body adjusts to the drug. However, some people have reported them lasting longer.

Others have said they didn’t see any side effects.

Keep an eye on the side effects, though, and consult an expert if you’re worried. Many providers include clinical or nutritional support as part of the price and we recommend spending extra to have this peace of mind and 1-2-1 personalised help.

How to manage Ozempic UK side effects

Best food for skin salmonMarco Verch/Flickr

Many providers will start you on a smaller dose of your chosen drug to help your body build up a tolerance and prevent or reduce the side effects of weight-loss drugs. You’ll then gradually increase the dosage.

While there’s no sure-fire way to avoid the side effects, the following has been reported to help:

  • Eating slow
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Reducing or avoiding high-sugar, high-fat and processed foods
  • Avoiding strong smells
  • Eating ginger can help manage nausea
  • Increasing your water intake can either help with constipation, or replace any fluids lost from being sick of from diarrhoea.

How much do weight loss injections cost?

The price of weight-loss injections varies slightly, depending on the provider and which medication you go for but you’re looking to spend between £150-£250 a month.

The cheaper prices usually just include the medication, which comes in a pen with detachable needles. The more expensive services typically include clinical support along with the drugs, shipped to you in a refrigerated container with a sharps bin.

In summary, it’s not cheap!

Where can I buy Ozempic in the UK?

There is a growing list of companies that are offering different GLP-1 medications and services. Before buying, check TrustPilot and make sure you read reviews from real people – not just influencers.

Some of the main ones include:

Simple Online Pharmacy weight loss injections

Learn more

Simple Online Pharmacy weight loss injectionsSimple Online Pharmacy

Simple Online Pharmacy sells:

  • Wegovy
  • Mounjaro

It also sells Saxenda weight loss injections in packs of five but as the drug has been discontinued in the UK – because Wegovy has proved to be a more effective treatment – it appears the company is just clearing out stock.

Prices start at £149 and come with next-day delivery. You don’t get all the bells and whistles of some of the other providers, but then you also don’t get the premium price. You have to complete an assessment to check if you’re eligible and this takes around five minutes.

Boots weight loss injections

Learn more

Boots weight loss injectionsBoots

Boots sells:

  • Wegovy
  • Mounjaro
  • Xenical

It’s also selling Saxenda but, as per Simple Online Pharmacy, once it’s sold out, it won’t be restocked.

To qualify for Boots’ weight-loss programme you need to tell the brand your health history, select pick up in store or delivery, and pay. This takes 5-10 minutes.

A team will review everything within 24 hours and prescribe treatment if appropriate. An expert will message or call if there are any follow-up questions.

The drug is sent to you with instructions. If you buy from Boots again, you get a 10% return order discount.

Voy weight loss injections

Learn more

Voy weight loss programmeVoy

Voy offers a range of GLP-1 weight loss injections, alongside expert support. These include:

  • Mounjaro
  • Wegovy
  • Saxenda
  • Orlistat

Each user gets assigned a weight-loss coach for the duration of their programme and this comes with video consultations and around-the-clock support. You have to answer a series of questions to see if you’re eligible. You’re then recommended a GLP-1 medication that best suits your needs and you can choose your coach, or get matched automatically. Prices vary depending on which GLP-1 medication you’re prescribed but average around £229 a month.

We’ve signed up for Voy and are one-week into our treatment. We’ll be posting a long-term review once we’ve used the injections for a substantial period of time.

Editor’s Pick: Numan weight loss services

Learn more

Numan weight loss injectionsNuman

Numan is best known for its erectile dysfunction products but it now offers a huge amount more, for both men and women.

In particular, it offers one of the widest selection of weight-loss solutions to change your weight, mindset, and behaviour. This includes:

  • Wegovy or Mounjaro pen, with its clinician-led Weight Loss Programme. Both are available from £179 per month and include app support.
  • Glucomannan supplements to help keep you full, at £12.66 a bottle.
  • Weight Loss Blood Test kit for £78 to monitor the impact of weight loss on your health.
  • Alli supplements which reduce fat absorption and also comes with the Weight Loss Programme. This costs £249 per month.

The Weight Loss Programme includes clinicians that can help you manage potential side effects, make dosage adjustments, and answer questions as well as 1-2-1 coaching, like Voy.

You also get unlimited access to nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and behaviour change experts each of whom can give tailored advice to help you establish lasting habits and not put all the weight back on.

To join Numan, take its online consultation and if you’re eligible, you’ll get recommended medication choices.

Weight-loss injections FAQ

Below we answer your most popular questions around weight-loss drugs and GLP-1.

What is the best injection for weight loss?

The best GLP-1 for weight loss often depends on your needs, how you body responds to it, and your tolerance levels. Semaglutide (Wegovy) and liraglutide (Saxenda) are specifically approved for weight loss and have shown to work the best in clinical trials. Wegovy, in particular, has been highlighted for its substantial weight loss results.

Depending on the provider, an expert can advise you on which is the best weight-loss injection for you.

How does GLP-1 work for weight loss?

GLP-1 helps with weight loss by suppressing your appetite and helping you feel full for longer while also helping reduce how much sugar your body stores as fat. This combination leads to a reduction in overall calorie intake and subsequent weight loss.

Is GLP-1 the same as Ozempic?

Ozempic is a brand name for semaglutide, a specific type of GLP-1 agonist. While Ozempic is primarily used for treating type 2 diabetes, its active ingredient, semaglutide, is also available in a higher dose as Wegovy, which is approved for weight loss. You can also get Saxenda, Mounjaro, Zepbound, Trulicity, Byetta and Bydureon.

Who should not take GLP-1?

People with a history of medullary thyroid carcinoma, multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, or severe gastrointestinal disease such as gastroparesis should ideally avoid GLP-1 agonists. Additionally, anyone with a known intolerance of hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients shouldn’t take these drugs.

Many providers ask you a series of questions to see if you’re eligible before taking the drug, to make sure it’s not dangerous. It’s crucial to consult a doctor before taking any new medication.

What does Ozempic do to your face?

One side effect of taking Ozempic has been dubbed “Ozempic face” and refers to a loss of facial fat, leading to a hollowed and aged appearance.

This isn’t a side effect of the drug per se. Instead, it happens when people lose a lot of weight quickly – regardless of the method. You skin doesn’t have time to adjust and can quickly look saggy and more wrinkles.

It’s a consequence of the overall weight loss rather than a direct action of the drug. Similarly, you can be left with sagging skin on your body too.

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