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All You Need to Know About Oral Semaglutide

Published

Mar 8, 2024

All you need to know about oral semaglutide including its uses, safety, effectiveness and more.

Woman taking pill
Woman taking pill
Woman taking pill

Obesity and overweight are significant health concerns associated with various diseases such as high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Studies suggest that reducing body weight by 5-10% can greatly improve health outcomes and quality of life.¹

Pharmaceutical interventions like oral Semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist, can complement weight loss efforts alongside a healthy lifestyle.² However, in the weight loss world, there are a wide range of diets and other medications that are trying to help people lose weight. 

So, how do you know if you can trust oral Semaglutide and if it really works? Read on as we explore what oral Semaglutide is, how it works for weight loss, how to get it, and any implications for you to consider before choosing to take it.

Weight Loss Scale with Green Measuring Tape

What Is Oral Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is the active ingredient in FDA-approved Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and weight management medications.³  Healthcare professionals frequently prescribe it for people who have reached a standstill in their weight loss journey. While Semaglutide was initially solely offered in injectable form, the FDA has now authorized an oral version, which can enhance compliance for some individuals.

Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist, meaning it mimics the hormone GLP-1 within the body. GLP-1 is responsible for signaling to the brain that you are full, as well as supporting your blood sugar levels. By imitating the GLP-1 hormone, Semaglutide can regulate appetite⁴ and support blood sugar levels.⁵

In the brain, GLP-1 suppresses our appetite signals — reducing the urge to eat food. Meanwhile, in the pancreas, it prompts the secretion of insulin, which helps us stabilize our blood sugar levels. In the stomach, it moderates the pace of food movement, consequently slowing its emptying to the intestines.⁶ These combined actions serve to prevent sharp spikes in blood sugar levels following meals and reduce overall calorie intake, critical for weight management. Oral Semaglutide can mimic GLP-1 with a 94% similarity to human GLP-1.⁷

A Woman Stretching Her Loose Pants To Show How Much Weight She Has Lost

Is the Oral Version as Effective as the Injectable Version?

There are currently no clinical studies directly comparing the efficacy of oral Semaglutide to its injectable form specifically for weight loss. However, there have been two clinical trials that compare the efficacy of oral Semaglutide to other weight loss medicines or placebo, and have provided valuable insights into how useful for weight loss it can be.

The first study revealed that once-daily oral Semaglutide intake (a brand-named tablet form) resulted in weight reduction similar to other weight loss medicines, including injectable Semaglutide, with a similar safety profile as other GLP-1 receptor agonists.⁸

The second study reported that daily oral Semaglutide intake resulted in a remarkable 15.1% weight loss in those with weight loss resistance, positioning it as comparable to injectable Semaglutide.⁹

When comparing the two formulations of Semaglutide (a brand-named tablet form vs. the injection) regarding weight loss potential, they have similar outcomes, with a slight edge for one. In a study assessing injectable Semaglutide, participants experienced an average weight reduction of 5.9% after three months and 10.9% after six months.¹⁰ This means that for someone weighing 265 pounds (120 kg), they could shed over 29 pounds (13 kg) within six months of using injectable Semaglutide.

In contrast, the study above that evaluated Oral Semaglutide revealed a 15.1% rate of weight loss after 68 weeks, with some subjects achieving up to a 20% reduction.⁹ This indicates that Oral Semaglutide may offer greater effectiveness in achieving long-term weight loss objectives compared to its injectable version. Nonetheless, both treatment options demonstrate efficacy in weight management when combined with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and exercise. The choice between them will depend on personal preferences, and individual circumstances.

Standing On Scales

Are There Any Side Effects?

Oral Semaglutide is generally considered safe when used as directed, however mild gastrointestinal side effects have been reported in some people.¹¹ Although very rare, the following have also been documented in small amounts of people:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

  • Abdominal pain radiating to the back

  • Infections

  • Acute pancreatitis

  • Acute kidney injury

  • Visual impairment in individuals with diabetes

  • Allergic reactions

  • Acute gallbladder disease

  • Tachycardia (Increased heart rate)

Like any other medication, you should always provide your full medication history and current medication schedule to your prescribing healthcare provider. This is to ensure there are no potential interactions with oral Semaglutide and any other medication you might be on. 

Where Can I Get It?

Oral Semaglutide can be prescribed by a physician. There’s currently one branded version named Rybelsus®. According to the manufacturer’s website, a 30-day supply of Rybelsus® will cost $935.77.¹² One study also found that patients pay as much as 68% out-of-pocket for anti-obesity medications.¹³

At Henry Meds, Oral Semaglutide is compounded. This means that the medications are made in facilities that are licensed by the FDA or by the state Boards of Pharmacy and are tailored to the needs of the patient. Compounded Oral Semaglutide contains the same active ingredients as the branded versions, but at a fraction of the cost. 

How Do I Take It?

Rybelsus® is the branded version of Oral Semaglutide. They are tablets that need to be taken at least 30 minutes before the first food, beverage, or other oral medications of the day with no more than four ounces of plain water only.¹¹ Waiting less than 30 minutes, or taking with food or beverages or other oral medications will lessen the effect of Rybelsus®. Waiting more than 30 minutes may increase the effect of the medicine, so carefully ensuring the right timing is important.¹¹

Compounded Oral Semaglutide through Henry Meds is sublingual, meaning it’s administered via a liquid dropper that you put under your tongue. It only needs to be taken once per day. Administration of a liquid dropper is fast, convenient, easy and mess-free. For more information, see here.

Compounded Oral Semaglutide

Is Compounded Oral Semaglutide Legal?

Yes, Compounded Oral Semaglutide is perfectly legal! Not only that, it’s a great solution to address the shortages we are seeing with the branded injectable Semaglutide. When a drug lands on the FDA Shortage List, compounding pharmacies can receive FDA authorization to create a compounded version of the drug, aiming to mitigate the shortage.¹⁴

At Henry Meds, the prescription you receive for Compounded Semaglutide has the same active ingredients as the branded versions and is coming from facilities licensed by the state Boards of Pharmacy or FDA-registered outsourcing facilities in the United States.

Is It a Lengthy Process to Get Compounded Oral Semaglutide?

Not at all. The process to sign up with Henry Meds is simple, and you can have your medication delivered to your door in no time. 

We try to keep things simple. With affordable prices and a convenient new patient intake process, you can get started in just a small handful of steps:

1. Visit our website and choose a program, your location and an appointment time
2. Create an account and subscribe
3. Fill out some basic information about your health and other details
4. You’ll receive an email with an appointment time
5. Attend your telehealth appointment 

That’s it. Any medication you are medically eligible for will be prescribed by your provider and shipped straight to your door.

Let’s Weigh It All Up

The introduction of Oral Semaglutide is a significant milestone in weight management. It’s not only backed by scientific evidence, but research that looked at the branded versions shows that it is just as effective as other weight loss medicines.

Thankfully, due to the availability of Compounded Oral Semaglutide through Henry Meds, the medicine is still accessible despite the FDA’s drug shortages and steep increases in cost for the branded versions. 

At Henry Meds, we don’t think you should have to spend a lot of money to access healthcare that can help improve your quality of life, or to achieve a healthy weight. 

Get started on your weight loss journey with Henry Meds today. 

Please note: Henry Meds does not offer Ozempic® or Wegovy® or Rybelsus®, which are only available from the Novo Nordisk company. Compounded Semaglutide is a patient-specific medication created in a state Board of Pharmacy or FDA licensed compounding facility per a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional. Compounded drugs are required to exclusively use ingredients from FDA-licensed facilities, and test sterile compounds for potency, sterility, and purity. While compounded drugs are legal they do not undergo pre-market approval from the FDA as they are not made in large batches for the public, compounds are made based on specific orders from a medical professional. Because of that the dose, route of administration, safety, and efficacy may differ from commercially available, brand-name, drugs. Henry Meds exclusively works with licensed sterile compounding pharmacies in the United States. 

To help you trust the information we provide, every article written by Henry relies on peer-reviewed studies and medically-reviewed facts. We ensure that data, ideas, and figures cited are reliable, current, and accurate. Our team of medical reviewers aim to help you cut through the noise with clear and authoritative primary and secondary sources.

Nothing in this article is intended to be prescriptive or medical advice. Talk to your doctor before starting a new diet and exercise plan. Information presented is about our medically supervised weight management programs and is not an advertisement for a specific drug.

Sources

  1. Fruh, S. M. (2017). Obesity: Risk factors, complications, and strategies for sustainable long-term weight management. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. 1 (S3-S14). https://doi:10.1002/2327-6924.12510

  2. Jensterle, M., Rizzo, M., Haluzík, M., & Janež, A. (2022). Efficacy of GLP-1 RA Approved for Weight Management in Patients With or Without Diabetes: A Narrative Review. Advances in therapy, 39(6), 2452–2467. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12325-022-02153-x

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2024, January 10). Medications Containing Semaglutide Marketed for Type 2 Diabetes or Weight Loss. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/medications-containing-semaglutide-marketed-type-2-diabetes-or-weight-loss

  4. Gibbons, C., Blundell, J., Tetens Hoff, S., Dahl, K., Bauer, R., & Baekdal, T. (2021). Effects of oral semaglutide on energy intake, food preference, appetite, control of eating and body weight in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, obesity & metabolism. 23(2), 581–588. https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.14255

  5. Dahl, K., Brooks, A., Almazedi, F., Hoff, S. T., Boschini, C., & Baekdal, T. A. (2021). Oral semaglutide improves postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism, and delays gastric emptying, in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, obesity & metabolism, 23(7), 1594–1603. https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.14373

  6. Lau, D. C. W., et al. (2022). Pharmacological profile of once-weekly injectable semaglutide for chronic weight management. Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology. 15(3), 251-267. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512433.2022.2070473

  7. Novomedlink. (2023). Mechanism of action of RYBELSUS® (semaglutide), the first type 2 diabetes pill in its class (GLP-1 RA). https://www.novomedlink.com/diabetes/products/treatments/rybelsus/about/mechanism-of-action.html

  8. Aroda, V.R., Rosenstock, J., Terauchi, Y.,  Altuntas, Y., M Lalic, N.M., , Morales Villegas, E.C., Jeppesen, O.K., Christiansen, E., Hertz, C.L., Haluzík, M. (2019). PIONEER 1: Randomized Clinical Trial of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Semaglutide Monotherapy in Comparison With Placebo in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 42(9). https://doi.org/10.2337/dc19-0749

  9. Knop, P. F., et al. (2023). Oral semaglutide 50 mg taken once per day in adults with overweight or obesity (OASIS 1): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial [Abstract]. The Lancet. 402(10403). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)01185-6

  10. Ghusn, W., De la Rosa, A., Sacoto, D., Cifuentes, L., Campos, A., Feris, F., Hurtado, M. D., & Acosta, A. (2022). Weight Loss Outcomes Associated With Semaglutide Treatment for Patients With Overweight or Obesity. JAMA network open, 5(9), e2231982. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.31982

  11. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2019, September). Rybelsus Highlights of Prescribing Information. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/213051s000lbl.pdf

  12. NovoCare. (2024). Find out the cost for RYBELSUS®. https://www.novocare.com/diabetes/products/rybelsus/explaining-list-price.html

  13. U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2019, August 9). Obesity Drugs: Few Adults Used Prescription Drugs for Weight Loss and Insurance Coverage Varied. https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-19-577

  14. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2023, March 24). Drug Compounding and Drug Shortages. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/human-drug-compounding/drug-compounding-and-drug-shortages

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