The Rise of GLP-1's
in the USA


You may have heard a lot about diet pens and who is using them to lose weight. A diet pen is a prefilled syringe that has a type of medication in it called a GLP-1 receptor agonist or glucagon-like peptide 1. This medication has a lot of positive effects on diabetes, but it’s also been found to help patients lose a significant amount of weight. GLP-1s have had a meteoric rise in the U.S. in the past couple of years, and the demand for them and its use are expected to grow in the coming years.



GLP-1 is a receptor agonist that acts like the GLP-1 hormone and gets the same results from the body as this natural hormone. This hormone works in the body to activate its GLP-1 receptors in the pancreas. When this happens, the body creates more insulin. When more insulin is released, the body can get rid of more sugar in the blood. Insulin is essential for carrying out this role in diabetics.

For those with type 2 diabetes, this is an essential function that can lower their blood sugar and have that extra sugar redirected to the tissues that need it. This sugar will give energy to the body instead of causing harm by remaining in the blood. This was a popular type of diabetes medication when it was first available. However, there are several side effects of these medications, and one of those is weight loss. That’s when it started to be prescribed off-label for patients who needed to lose weight.

GLP-1s make the food that a patient eats stay in the stomach for a more extended period. By delaying the stomach emptying, the sugars in the food get introduced to the blood more slowly. This can also help to keep blood sugar levels from getting too high. However, it has another effect on patients. The slower digestion makes patients feel full for longer. Patients don’t eat as much when they take this medication, and this is the primary function of the drug that leads to weight loss.

These medications come in an injection pen that may be injected every day or every week, depending on the specific medication. These pens come in different dosages, and your doctor can tell you how much you need. There is one brand, Rybelsus, that comes as a daily pill that’s swallowed. Pfizer also worked on an oral GLP-1, but the project was canceled. Often, doctors will start a patient on a low dosage of their GLP-1 and then gradually raise it until the patient gets the best results from the medication.

GLP-1s in the News

GLP-1s in the News

Once the amount of weight loss in patients was clear, and diabetics who took this medication lost weight, pharmaceutical companies developed versions that were intended to be used for weight loss. This becomes a new medication that may have a higher dosage than when it’s used for diabetics. These new drugs made a huge splash in the media as well as the original drugs that were being prescribed off-label more and more often.

That’s when celebrities and influences got involved with these drugs. Celebrities from movie stars to Tik Tok
influencers were talking about these drugs. They started taking GLP-1s and talking about their progress with them. This led to millions of people learning about these medications and wondering whether they would help with their own weight loss. They began asking their doctors about these drugs and asking to be put on them for weight loss.

A problem that has also gotten a lot of press is that there were shortages of drugs like Ozempic when people realized how much weight they could lose by taking it. Countless news stories reported this problem, and the market is responding by producing more of these medications to meet the growing need for them

Losing Weight

Losing Weight

To lose weight with these medications, they must be taken exactly as the doctor prescribes. Whether it’s once a week or every day, the patient has to keep up with the regimen and not miss doses. It’s possible for patients taking these drugs to lose about 15% of their body weight because of them. This has led to the clamor for these drugs due to the high number of obese people in the U.S. The country’s obesity rate is at more than 40%, making it essential for people to find a way to slim down for their health.

Obesity as well as type 2 diabetes are prevalent in the U.S., and both can be treated by many of these GLP-1s, though some are not prescribed only for diabetes. Those are the drugs approved by the FDA for weight loss. They often come in higher dosages than a diabetic needs. About 10% of all of the people in the U.S. have type 2 diabetes. This is what has led to the massive push to develop diabetes drugs. Because these drugs also lead to weight loss, they’re becoming more and more common among those who are obese. Those who are diabetic as well as obese can significantly benefit from these medications.

These drugs aren’t approved for people who are just a little bit overweight and want to lose a few pounds. The BMI guidelines require that the patient be obese or overweight with a condition caused by the extra weight. This may include problems like heart disease or high blood pressure. Losing weight can often help to reverse these problems so that the patient isn’t at as much risk for events like heart attacks or strokes.

Example of GLP-1: Semglutide

Semaglutide is a type of GLP-1 in many of the diet pens on the market. While many GLP-1s contain the same medication, they have various brand names.

Each brand name has its guidelines for who should take the medication. These guidelines often take the patient’s body mass index, or BMI, into account.

For instance, Wegovy is a semaglutide medication that is approved for people who have a BMI of 30 or a BMI of 26, as well as another
condition caused by their obesity.


The Cost of GLP-1s

When GLP-1s first started to catch on as an option for weight problems, it was primarily thought that only celebrities and the wealthy could get them. Not only did the demand for the drugs cause a shortage of them, but the cost was relatively high for each month’s supply. A month of a GLP-1 receptor agonist could cost as much as $1,300 every month. When these drugs are prescribed for diabetes, they are often covered by the patient’s prescription coverage. The patient would then only have to pay the co-pay due. However, when used as a weight loss drug, health insurance plans generally won’t pay for the drug. This can mean paying the total retail price for them every month.

However, there are various ways that people can get this medication by paying less than the total retail price. There are several patient assistance programs, co-pay cards, and coupons that are helping with the cost for those who can’t afford these medications. The companies have patient assistance programs that can get them free medication if they meet specific guidelines. There are also co-pay cards that can make your co-pay around $25 and up. There are also prescription cards that can lower the price by a few hundred dollars. These programs have led to more and more people using them to get these drugs.

The Future of GLP-1s

The Future of GLP-1s

Both demand and production of these drugs are growing. It’s also being found that these drugs can have other benefits as well. GLP-1s can help with inflammation, and they can help protect the lungs. This means that they may be used as a drug for COVID-19 in the future, even if the patient isn’t diabetic. They also have a positive effect on the composition of your gut microbe. This may make them right for the treatment of various gut issues.

As the years go on, some of the brands of GLP-1 medications will eventually compete with the generic versions. The price of these medications is so high precisely because there aren’t generics of many of them yet. In a few years, that will change. The generics will be priced lower, forcing the prices to go down across the board. This may make the demand for these drugs increase even faster. The research and development being done on GLP-1s may even mean that new ones will be on the market as well.

If you suffer from obesity or are overweight and suffering from complications of it, you may benefit from taking a GLP-1 medication. Some of these are approved for use as weight loss drugs (such as Saxenda), or your doctor may choose a different GLP-1 for you and write you an off-label prescription for one. These drugs have been proven in many clinical studies to help people lose significantly more weight than they would have with diet and exercise alone. These drugs can have a highly positive impact on your weight as well as your overall health when taken as prescribed.

Written & Reviewed By
The Diet Pens Team

The Diet Pens Team is a dedicated group of healthcare enthusiasts, nutritionists, and local pharmacists committed to providing the latest and most accurate information about diet pens and weight management. Our team combines years of expertise in healthcare and nutrition with a passion for helping individuals achieve their health goals.

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