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The Dangers of Ozempic/Wegovy

It seems like only yesterday that Gina Kolata of the New York Times was cheerleading without restraint for Ozempic/Wegovy. (It’s the same drug, based on a hormone that acts on insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.) In 2017 the FDA granted approval to the Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk to market Ozempic as a treatment for type-2 diabetes, even though the mechanism of action was not understood. People taking Ozempic for diabetes ate noticeably less and lost weight. Novo Nordisk swiftly began clinical trials of the hormone at a higher dose as a treatment for obesity. They dubbed the higher dose “Wegovy” and got FDA approval to market it in the US in 2021. Demand soon exceeded supply. Novo Nordisk revved up prodution. Eli Lilly hastened development of similar drugs.

“Every so often a drug comes along that has the potential to change the world,” Gina Kolata gushed in a page one story (summarized in the AVA last November 1). 

“Results from a clinical trial reported last week indicate that Wegovy can do more than help people lose weight — it also can protect against cardiac complications, like heart attacks and strokes. But why that happens remains poorly understood.”

Eli Lilly was awaiting FDA approval for a GLP-1 diabetes drug on which people could lose 20 percent of their weight, Kolata reported. “No one fully understands why,” a Lilly scientist told her.

The fact that nobody knows how these drugs actually work did not seem ominous to Kolata. She made it seem like a benign little mystery. Her paean ended on a joyful note: “The era of ‘just go out and diet and exercise’ is now gone’,” said Dr. Rudolph Leibel, a professor of diabetes research at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Now clinicians have tools to address obesity.”

(The tools to address obesity are and will always be physical activity and nutritious food.)

And Sure Enough…

On February 8 the Times’ “Well” section featured a piece by Dani Blum that should have been hedded “Coping With Muscle Loss Caused by Ozempic/Wegovy.” But the paper is so in thrall to Big Pharma that they managed to put a positive spin on this truly frightening news.

The subhed said, “Gym chains, nutrition startups, and drug makers all want to solve a common issue among people who take weight loss drugs.” Blum reported that “more doctors and patients are looking for ways to counteract the muscle loss that can happen on these medications — and companies are racing to meet that demand.

“Luxury gyms are offering strength-training programs specifically marketed toward people taking these medications, promising to help clients “optimize their outcomes.” Nutritionists and meal-delivery services are creating plans to help patients pack in enough protein. And drug companies including Eli Lilly, which makes Mounjaro and Zepbound, are looking to develop combination treatments that prevent muscle loss.”

Can’t you just see the marketing specialists coming up with these names? “Kilmanjaro… Hemingway… Well-muscled… Bound for zip, bound for zep… a big zeppelin… gliding…) O. Blum quotes Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, the chief scientific officer at Eli Lilly, denying that the loss of muscle mass by people using their drugs is a matter of grave concern. “I know people are like, ‘Oh, we’re trying to fix the liability.’ It’s not that,” he insisted. The question, he said, is how to build on the benefits of medication to help patients lose more fat while preserving, or even gaining, more muscle.

“Eli Lilly is partnering with BioAge Labs to test whether a compound called azelaprag could help people achieve a more optimal balance of muscle and fat, possibly helping people who are taking Mounjaro or Zepbound lose even more weight. (Lilly got FDA approval to market Zepbound for weight loss and Mounjaro for diabetes.)

Blum’s tag reads like an antidote to her article. She notes that these supposedly safer formulations are years away from the market. “In the meantime, doctors said, it’s critical for these patients to find ways to maintain their muscle. Older adults and postmenopausal women, in particular, are at risk for becoming frail or developing osteoporosis if they lose too much muscle, said Dr. Scott Hagan, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington who studies obesity. But anyone who loses muscle could experience weakness and fatigue, Dr. Hagan said, and could be at an increased risk of falls and injuries.”

Pebbles Qualifies for DAR

Recent research reveals that Pebbles Trippet, the longtime conscience of  the medical marijuana movement, is related to an even better known political activist, Thomas Jefferson. Ms Trippet is a direct descendent of Thomas Jefferson, Sr., the grandfather of the Thomas Jefferson who became America’s Third President. (Your correspondent is unclear about why this doesn't make her a direct descendent of POTUS Jefferson, but more will be revealed.)

Pebbles’ friend Laura Costa discovered the Jefferson connection, which came as news to Ms. Trippet. Costa reports, “It has taken some time to soak it in, considering their relationship to slavery, but considering her lifelong battle for Civil Rights she’s done well in combatting their crimes of centuries past.”

Pebbles recalls having heard about a different illustrious relative, a scientific innovator named Simpson. Costa has IDed him as  “James Young Simpson, titled doctor to The Queen of Scotland, the first to use chloroform and nitrous oxide as a sedative for childbirth.”

Costa and other friends of Pebbles have been encouraging her to share her memories. “When you line up all her life events, trauma, tragedy, comedy and accomplishments, it’s quite a story. I feel like I’m writing a ‘Forrest Gump’ story, but it’s real.”

“The ‘Trippet Standard’ applies to much more than California Cannabis law.  The Trippet Standard to me is the way by which she’s led her life of service, a ‘Standard’ we can all appreciate.

“Pebbles has once again delved into the local politics lending her support to the Cannabis Farmers of Humboldt County with her firm opposition to Measure A, on their March 5th ballot. Proposition #64 doesn’t need a regulatory backup. There is no need for Measure A and Pebbles would like to spread the word: “NO on Measiure A; it’s bad for Humboldt.” If Measure A is approved it will serve as a template to apply harsher cannabis laws in every county, don’t let Measure A bleed over into Mendocino. “If it succeeds here, it will succeed there.”

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