Greenville patient talks about weight loss drug that is gaining popularity

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:29 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Using a diabetes drug to drop a few pounds is more than a TikTok trend. Celebrities like Elon Musk are bragging about shedding pounds thanks to the substance. The two drugs are Ozempic and Wegovy. Ozempic was approved for diabetes and Wegovy for weight loss. But they are made from the exact same ingredient, semaglutide. A clinic in Greenville offers a compound of the medication and one patient says it changed his life.

Dennis Cameron says last summer he was 5′8″ and weighed about 260 pounds. He had high blood pressure and went to see his doctor about severe chest pain.

“They said that I had a stroke of some sort,” Cameron said.

His grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of 56 and he worried about the same fate, particularly because he is a single dad.

“I have a three year old, and I just wanted to be around,” Cameron said. “I am 50 years old and being that much overweight really wasn’t good.”

He went to see Internal Medicine Dr. Mario Menendez from the Lowcountry Male Clinic in Greenville.

“We tend to associate people who are obese with a lack of willpower and poor habits in general, but that is actually not the case,” Dr. Menendez said. “It is a survival mechanism that we have.”

He recommended Cameron try a compound of semaglutide and B12. The active ingredient works as an appetite suppressant.

“A compound version is just a custom version of the medication,” Menendez said. “The function of the medication is partially at the level of the brain. It acts on certain signals in the brain that tell us we are full when we have eaten.”

Cameron said it worked. In six months he lost about 65 pounds. He says he didn’t feel as hungry and was able to eat smaller portions.

“If I went to the steakhouse, ordered steak, potato and salad, I would probably eat a third of it,” Cameron said.

Cameron cautioned that it’s important to listen to the body while on medication and not eat past when the body signals it is full. Patients can take up to 2.4 mgs of semaglutide as an injection. Cameron says .5 mg worked for him. But there can be side effects.

“The biggest problem that I had with it was when I started increasing the doses I had a little bit of acid reflux,” Cameron said. “Other than that none whatsoever.”

Other side effects of semaglutide include abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Those with a family history of thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 should not use the medication. Dr. Menendez says it can cost anywhere from $400-$1300 a month depending if a person’s insurance will cover any costs.