Can a shot really make you skinny?

February 7, 2012 5:34:27 AM PST
Imagine losing weight during the holidays. That's what happened to a woman you're about to meet. She lost 2 pounds over the holidays because of a new diabetes drug she's been taking. The weight loss is just a side effect of the drug.

Chances are either you or someone you know is trying to lose weight. But Kristin Cortese wasn't. She was just trying to control her diabetes. So how'd she drop 40 pounds and four dress sizes?

"I've gone from a 20 to a size 12. I've gotten into a couple of 10s," Cortese said.

The weight loss is a side effect of her new diabetes drug called Victoza.

"I see an average weight loss for men between 10 and 12 pounds a month and women usually around six pounds a month, at least for the first several months and almost a year," said Dr. Alan Hoffman, St. Luke's internist and diabetes specialist.

One man lost 110 pounds in a year. He's one of hundreds of Dr. Hoffman's patients who are losing weight. They lose the weight because Victoza kills their appetite.

"My appetite went away almost immediately," Cortese said. "It just really stops what you eat, stops you overeating which has been a huge, huge help."

Patients take Victoza as a daily shot and they have to stay on their diabetic diet.

People are also losing weight on Byetta, a sister drug to Victoza which is older and cheaper. The big question -- What if you aren't diabetic? Can you take these shots just for weight loss?

"There are a lot of doctors out in the community who are using Byetta and Victoza to help promote weight loss," Dr. Hoffman said.

"Is that a good idea?" we asked.

"I think so," he said.

Dr. Hoffman says the weight loss itself can reverse Type 2 diabetes before it ever starts. Since Victoza, Cortese's life has changed. She now scuba dives, rides motorcycles and has more energy for her four-year-old.

"He calls me skinny mommy now," Cortese said.

The one big downside of this drug that helps people lose up to 40 pounds a year is its cost. It costs around $500 and that's double what some of the other drugs cost.

If insurance won't pay, people often shell out the $6,000 a year themselves because the results are that spectacular.

"I've told many of my patients that this drug is a miracle drug because it works, has very few side effects and the patients are thrilled with it. It changes their lives," Dr. Hoffman said.

And after a year, Cortese not only looks and feels better, her diabetes is gone.

"Basically, biochemically I am diabetes free," she said.

No more pills, no more finger sticks. Just a diet, and a shot.

"Now I just go on with life. I take my shot in the morning and I'm good to go," Cortese said.

Dr. Hoffman says many diabetes drugs actually cause people to crave sweets, making it harder for them to stay on their diabetic diet, and drop the pounds.