A woman who’s been on a drug similar to Ozempic for nearly a decade is sharing what she’s learned.
Danielle Payton, 33, is believed to be one of the longest-serving patients on a GLP-1 injection.
The publicist began taking Victoza, a once-daily injection similar to Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro, in 2014.
Payton had initially gone to see a doctor to discuss getting a breast reduction when she was told that if she didn’t lose weight, the doctor wouldn’t operate and her long list of chronic illnesses would only grow.
She weighed 209 pounds at the time and was prediabetic.
The doctor told her she had to get down to 165 pounds and was prescribed Victoza to manage her prediabetic condition.
She never imagined it would completely transform her body. “I was given a shot and told, ‘This is going to stop you from getting diabetes. The side effect is you might lose a little weight,’” she told Daily Mail.
“I never thought it would go this route of losing so much weight because of an injection that ended up being not to lose weight.”
Victoza was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010 to treat adult Type 2 diabetes.
The drug works in practically the same way as Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro by binding to the GLP-1 receptor, which triggers hormones in the brain to slow digestion and keep the stomach full, reducing cravings and allowing users to feel satiated.
“I was not told, nor did I even think, that I could lose between 80 and 90 pounds. Ever,” she said.
Nine years later, Payton is down to about 120 pounds.
While drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and Victoza are being touted by some as a quick way to shed a few pounds, none are FDA approved for weight loss. After seeing how the prescription drug helped people to feel satiated and better manage their eating habits, doctors began prescribing the drug as an off-label use for long-term weight management.
Payton warned that the medication took several months before she saw a major change and altered more than the number on the scale.
She recounted that her taste buds changed, her appetite decreased and her whole relationship with food became different.
“It’s not that I changed my diet, per se … it’s that the shot actually changes how you look at food, what food becomes attractive to you, at least in my experience,” Payton noted. “It’s a mind game.”
Since reevaluating her relationship with food, Payton is more conscious of only eating when she’s hungry.
“The shots basically taught me to do that,” she said.
But it wasn’t all so great. Payton also experienced side effects including constipation, nausea and vomiting, which have since subsided for her but are being reported as some of the major issues others taking similar medications are experiencing.
In fact, the manufacturers of Ozempic and Mounjaro are being sued over claims that the popular weight loss drugs can cause gastroparesis, or “stomach paralysis,” and caused one woman to vomit so severely she lost several teeth.
Doctors have told Payton that she will most likely need to continue taking Victoza for the rest of her life to avoid developing diabetes.
“[Victoza] is part of my daily routine, and my daily routine is what keeps me from getting progressively sicker, so as much as it sucks, it’s also what keeps me going,” she said.
But last December, she had to go off the shot for several months due to a drug shortage, leading her to gain back 15 pounds.
“I was freaking out. I was like, ‘You guys don’t need it. You’re just doing this to get thin, and I’m doing this so I don’t get diabetes,’” she said.
Payton wants to remind people that Victoza and other similar drugs are more than just a weight loss solution to many people.
“Really take into consideration that people actually need this medicine and that there are other ways that those people can lose weight,” she said.
“Please stop taking the supply that’s left in this country because it is dwindling by the day. And we don’t know whether we’ll be able to get the next script.”