This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 10/03/2021 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

History of Rybelsus


Rybelsus is the brand name for the tablet form of Semaglutide.


Before Rybelsus was developed, the only way to take Semaglutide was via a subcutaneous injection.


As some people don’t like taking injections, Novo Nordisk was motivated to develop a tablet form of the medication for those that needed to take it but had difficulty with injections.



What is Rybelsus?


Rybelsus is a relatively new development by Novo Nordisk, and it was approved for use in the USA in September 2019.


It wasn’t a few months later until 2020 when the revolutionary drug was approved for use in the UK in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).


Rybelsus is the first and currently only oral GLP-1 receptor agonist in the world, and should be taken daily to reap similar benefits as the once-weekly Semaglutide injection.


However, this dosing schedule suits many patients, as taking a tablet at the same time each day is fairly easy to incorporate into a daily routine.


This is particularly true if you consider that Rybelsus should be taken as soon as you wake up, at least 30-60 minutes before your first meal of the day.


Consistent daily dosing may work better than weekly injections for some, and thanks to the development of Rybelsus, this is now an option for those needing to take Semaglutide.



Is Rybelsus Semaglutide?


Yes! Rybelsus tablets contain Semaglutide as their active ingredient, and they are available in 3mg, 7mg and 14mg variations.


Most people are told to take 3mg of Rybelsus daily for 30 days before moving to the maintenance dose of 7mg daily.


However, some people may need to take a 14mg tablet each day if their condition isn’t managed by the 7mg variation.


There are no studies directly comparing Semaglutide injections to Rybelsus tablets.


1.0mg a week of Semaglutide injections results in similar efficacy approximately 7 –14 mg a day of Rybelsus in patients with Type 2 diabetes.



Who owns Rybelsus?


Rybelsus was developed by Novo Nordisk – the same pharmaceutical company that developed other GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs such as Semaglutide injections, Victoza and Saxenda.


Novo Nordisk owns the patent for Rybelsus, and the patent for it doesn’t expire until some point between 2029 and 2034, so it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing any generic versions of oral Semaglutide until then.


However, this doesn’t necessarily mean bad news for the general population, it just means that Rybelsus will be the only oral version of Semaglutide available for a while.



Novo Nordisk realised the demand for an oral GLP-1 receptor agonist and set a team of scientists and researchers about converting Semaglutide from an injectable medication into an oral one.


Their development means that many patients are now able to choose between a weekly injection and a daily tablet to manage their condition – something which wasn’t an option before the revolutionary development of Rybelsus.



How long has Rybelsus been used for weight loss


As Rybelsus contains Semaglutide as the active medication in the tablets, it’s not actually licensed for weight loss.


Semaglutide injections have been licensed for both type 2 diabetes and weight management, although the latter is a very recent development.


Although this licensing has only just happened in the UK, current studies look promising for the future of Semaglutide as a weight loss medication.


Prescribers will ask you a series of questions about your medical history, current medicines, family history, and allergies before they will prescribe any medication for you.


They may also ask about your lifestyle habits to get an idea of which type of treatment would be most appropriate for you.


If they believe that Rybelsus may be a safe and suitable treatment for you, they may prescribe it to you with the understanding that your results will be monitored.

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