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Ozempic treats diabetes and helps with weight loss. But can it also treat addiction?

Boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic rest on a pharmacy counter. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic rest on a pharmacy counter. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Ozempic was developed to treat Type 2 diabetes. But patients and doctors soon found that the drug was not only lowering blood sugar, but also helping patients lose weight. It was so effective, in fact, that people using it for weight loss created a shortage of the drug.

Other diabetes drugs in the same class, including one called Mounjaro, are showing similar weight loss effects. But now, some Ozempic patients are reporting another unexpected side effect: They say it’s treating their addictions, from alcohol to cigarettes to gambling. And researchers are taking note.

Host Robin Young talks to Atlantic Monthly health and science writer Sarah Zhang, who details the phenomenon in her article, “Did Scientists Accidentally Invent an Anti-Addiction Drug?”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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