The treatment of obesity has seen recent advancements in therapeutic options. Originally designed to address diabetes, these medications demonstrated additional benefits in weight loss and improved blood sugar control during clinical trials. In Iceland, two primary medications are employed for obesity treatment. One is Ozempic (semaglutide), initially marketed for diabetes and only reimbursed if the patient has diabetes and cannot tolerate other diabetes treatments well (per guidelines on type II diabetes treatment). For individuals recently diagnosed with diabetes, alternative diabetic medications are recommended for at least six months before considering Ozempic.

A recent addition to obesity treatment in Iceland is Wegovy, sharing the same active ingredient, semaglutide, with Ozempic. Both belong to the GLP-1 receptor agonist class, serving different purposes. Ozempic primarily targets diabetes, while Wegovy specifically addresses chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight and at least one weight-related comorbidity. Despite sharing the active ingredient, the dosages and indications for these medications may vary.

Another obesity treatment available in the Icelandic market is Saxenda (liraglutide), directly marketed for obesity. To obtain a Saxenda prescription, the patient must have a BMI > 35 kg/m2 and confirm at least one obesity-related comorbidity, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Saxenda is not reimbursed and is relatively expensive.

Generally, these medications are prescribed for patients struggling with obesity (BMI < 30) or those overweight (BMI > 27) with one or more obesity-related comorbidities. In cases where a patient meets the treatment criteria but doesn’t qualify for reimbursement, they are responsible for covering the treatment costs.

Ozempic, Wegovy, and Saxenda are all injectable medications administered subcutaneously. They are available in pre-filled pen injectors, with needles either included or requiring separate purchase.

While obesity medications show promising results, it’s crucial to note that these effects are not persistent or long-term after discontinuation. At our clinic, we stress the importance of patients improving their lifestyle and eating habits alongside medication, and we stand ready to offer assistance on this journey.


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