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How to Get Semaglutide: A Comprehensive Guide

Published

Mar 12, 2024

Semaglutide is proving hard to obtain. So, what do you do when you need it?

Man looking at tablet
Man looking at tablet
Man looking at tablet

Semaglutide is the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy. It’s a medication known for its ability to enhance weight loss. There’s no doubt that it’s a life-changing drug, but the pressing issue now is how to get Semaglutide to those who truly need it.

Ozempic and Wegovy are incredibly popular and becoming more so every day, so popular, in fact, that they are on the FDA's Drug Shortages List. FDA‘s Drug Shortages List.

So, where do you go if you want to get your hands on this medication? This article explains what you need to know to get Semaglutide affordably and hassle-free.

Smiling female doctor

What Is Semaglutide, and How Does It Work?

Semaglutide is a medication belonging to the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist class medication. That means it mimics the effects of GLP-1, a peptide hormone secreted by the intestines and the brain. GLP-1 has receptors throughout the body, but its most notable actions occur in the digestive system, the pancreas, and the brain’s appetite centers. 

Food digestion and absorption trigger GLP-1 secretion. In the gut, it slows down digestion, preventing steep blood glucose level surges. In the pancreas, it enhances insulin secretion while suppressing glucagon release — concerted actions that lower blood sugar levels. In the brain, it curbs one’s appetite and food-seeking behavior. 

A couple exercising at the park

In essence, the GLP-1 hormone helps keep blood glucose in check. Elevated blood sugar levels can make it hard to lose weight. 

GLP-1 stays only for a few minutes in the body. After that, it breaks down in the cells and gets excreted in the kidneys. So without help, its effects — including that feeling of fullness — are short-lived.

Semaglutide is a modified version of the human hormone with similar blood sugar- and appetite-suppressing effects but stays much longer in the body. Semaglutide is typically taken once a week, whereas liraglutide, another GLP-1 agonist, is generally taken daily.

How Effective Is Semaglutide, Really?

Let’s take a look into the research: While weight loss of at least 5-10% is usually enough to see significant cardiovascular health improvement, clinical trials show that combining Semaglutide treatment with lifestyle changes helps reduce weight by 9.6-17.4% after 68 weeks. By comparison, lifestyle modification alone sheds only 3-5% weight for most people. Bariatric surgery can help lose 20-30%, but the risks and costs of the procedure can be too great for many.

Research also shows that oral Semaglutide effectively lowers HbA1c — an indicator of blood sugar control — and body weight in patients with type 2 diabetes. In plus-size people without diabetes, clinical studies reveal that maintenance Semaglutide injection treatments help keep weight under control. 

The most common side effects of this GLP-1 medication are nausea and mild to moderate gastrointestinal disturbances. Because of this, the dose is increased on a monthly basis to slowly acclimate the body to the medication and reduce the chance of side effects. Serious complications are rare, but the following have been reported:

  • Hypoglycemia (lower-than-normal blood sugar)

  • Acute pancreatitis

  • Acute kidney injury

  • Visual impairment in people with diabetes

  • Allergies

  • Acute gallbladder disease

  • Increased heart rate

Ultimately, Semaglutide is considered to be safe and effective for the aforementioned conditions, but you must use it under close medical supervision.

The 3 Categories of Semaglutide Products

The FDA has approved the following three forms of Semaglutide products, each with differing purposes:

1) Ozempic is an injectable that serves as a complement to diet and exercise by lowering blood glucose in adult patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

2) Rybelsus has the same use as Ozempic but is given to people who prefer oral drugs over injectables.

3) Wegovy is an injectable prescribed as an adjunct to lifestyle modifications for chronic weight management in:

  • Adults with a body mass index of 30 kg/m2

  • Adults with a body mass index of 27 kg/m2 and at least one weight-related health condition, such as hypertension or type 2 diabetes mellitus

  • Children 12 years and older with a body mass index at the 95th percentile or higher for age and sex 

A couple walking together

Understanding these product categories can help you determine the most suitable for you. If you use the Henry Meds platform, we can tailor your Semaglutide formulation according to your needs.

Who Shouldn’t Use Semaglutide?

Consuming Semaglutide is advised against if associated with any of the following:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Personal or familial history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2

  • History of pancreatitis

  • Known hypersensitivity to synthetic GLP-1 agonists

  • End-stage kidney disease

  • Mood disorders or suicidal ideation

  • Diabetes-related visual problems

To get a Semaglutide prescription, a licensed medical professional must first give you a complete health evaluation. You may use the Henry Meds platform to get a virtual consultation with one duly licensed in your state.

Can You Buy Semaglutide Over the Counter?

The FDA classifies Semaglutide as a prescription medication, so you can only get it with a health provider’s prescription. Remember that while most patients experience minimal side effects, serious ones, though rare, have also been reported. This is why Semaglutide must be used under strict medical supervision.

You can use the Henry Meds platform to consult a licensed medical professional and get your Semaglutide supplies conveniently. 

Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Semaglutide?

People commonly ask if there are eligibility criteria for receiving Semaglutide treatment. FDA-approved medical indications aren’t the same as eligibility criteria, so technically, none exist. Even if you have a medical indication for GLP-1 receptor agonists, there are other things to consider that may come up during your medical evaluation. 

Doctor consulting with a patient

The first is safety. This alone can prompt your medical provider to ask a lot of questions. For example, some drugs may interact adversely with Semaglutide, so you may be asked about your current medications. Another example is the presence of autoimmune conditions affecting the kidneys, which can render GLP-1 agonists unsafe. Your provider may uncover other risk factors only after a thorough medical exam.

The second is cost. Semaglutide is one of the most expensive drugs for long-term weight management and diabetes treatment. Additionally, clinical trials show that maintenance shots are necessary for some people to keep the weight off. The treatment will create a huge bump in your healthcare expenses.

The third is your readiness for a lifestyle change. Semaglutide treatment may be wasted without a healthy diet and regular physical activity. 

Personal factors are different for everyone. The only way to know if Semaglutide is right for you is by consulting with a healthcare professional. 

Can You Take Semaglutide Even If You’re Not Diabetic?

Yes, you may consider Semaglutide as a weight loss solution even if you don’t have diabetes. Studies support high-dose Semaglutide (i.e., 2.4 mg once weekly) together with diet and exercise for long-term weight management. You may use the Henry Meds platform to ensure your Semaglutide formulation has the dose appropriate for your weight loss goals.

How Much Does Semaglutide Cost?

In Semaglutide clinical trials, it’s estimated that around $22,878 is spent on each patient to achieve a 12.4% weight reduction after 56-68 weeks of continuous use. That’s $1,845 for every 1% body weight lost. 

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that, as of August 2023, Semaglutide products cost at least $1,300 per month. The ongoing shortage and high demand are expected to drive prices up further.

A man looking away in deep thought

Will Insurance Pay for Semaglutide?

In theory, patients with medical indications for Semaglutide are qualified for insurance coverage. However, many factors determine one’s reimbursement eligibility and coverage extent. For example, insurance may pay for the drug initially for qualified patients but may stop later if it proves ineffective. 

Private insurance companies may cover Semaglutide as a weight loss solution, depending on the plan type and other considerations. Medicare and Medicaid may pay for GLP-1 agonist drugs for diabetes treatment. For weight loss, policies vary by plan type and state.

With that said, a study found that as much as 68% of payments for weight loss drugs are out-of-pocket. Worse, many employers are starting to refuse insurance coverage for these medications due to their rising costs. 

Should You Buy Semaglutide Online?

The answer: It depends on the website.

The FDA warns consumers against buying GLP-1 weight loss medications from unregulated online pharmacies. Some signs that a virtual drugstore could be unsafe include:

  • Not asking for a doctor’s prescription

  • The online pharmacy and its staff lack the necessary U.S. licenses

The FDA can’t guarantee that Semaglutide products sold on the internet meet quality standards. When buying Semaglutide, health authorities remind the public to get a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional and purchase only from legally registered facilities.

Can Semaglutide Be Compounded?

Yes, Semaglutide can be compounded, meaning that a drug may be modified to suit individual needs. Lately, compounded Semaglutide is claiming a share of the attention given to the original drug, as it provides a solution to the latter’s shortage and pricing issues.

Pharmacies may be allowed to compound a drug when a medication is not commercially available — such as when it appears on the FDA’s Drug Shortages List—  or when it needs a different route of administration or dosage strength. However, the compounded formulation must comply with the Food, Drugs, & Cosmetics Act Section 503(a). 

Sterile compounded drugs can be made in FDA- and state-licensed sterile outsourcing facilities, which typically produce bulk products for hospitals in compliance with rigorous sterility, stability, and potency standards. While compounded drugs are not FDA-approved, they are formulated for individual patients and not for mass-market release. 

The FDA specifically issues licenses to facilities under Section 503(b) of the Food, Drugs, & Cosmetics Act to produce sterile compounds. So, while compounded drugs are not specifically FDA-approved, they are tightly monitored and regulated to ensure strict compliance with state and federal laws.

The bottom line is that compounding makes Semaglutide available at an affordable price. The pharmacist can formulate it in compliance with the FD&C Act to ensure its quality.

Doctor smiling

How Can Henry Meds Help You Get Semaglutide?

If you need Semaglutide but find it difficult to obtain on your own, Henry Meds can help. Our convenient platform can connect you to providers and compounding pharmacies at your fingertips. You can get the medication when needed and at a reasonable cost. 

The process is easy.

  1. First, fill out our medical intake form.

  2. Then, schedule an appointment online so a provider on the Henry Meds platform can perform an initial two-way audiovisual consultation and issue a prescription as medically appropriate. 

  3. A licensed sterile compounding pharmacy on the Henry Meds platform will fill your prescription and ship your medication directly to you with all the supplies you need to get started. 

It’s that simple!

Getting Semaglutide: The Key Takeaways

Semaglutide is a diabetes drug that has also been proven valuable in chronic weight management. It’s generally effective and safe, but its potential adverse effects make it necessary to classify it as a prescription medication.  The only way to legally get it is via an online or in-person pharmacy after receiving a prescription from a licensed medical professional.

However, Semaglutide’s weight-reducing effect has made it wildly popular, creating supply and cost problems for people who truly need it. Because of the global shortage of Ozempic, Wegovy, and a limited selection of commercially available dosages, you may consider filling your prescription at a compounding pharmacy for a compounded form of Semaglutide. 

Compounding pharmacies provide a vital backup to America’s pharmaceutical supply chain in times of high demand, just like what we are experiencing right now. A state Board of Pharmacy or FDA-registered sterile outsourcing facility can produce compounded Semaglutide tailored to your individual needs, such as removing ingredients that pose an allergy risk, increasing the strength of the medication, or compounding it with ingredients that may help reduce the side effects faced by people on the commercially available forms. 

Henry Meds can help patients in dozens of states get access to the life-changing care they need at a fraction of the cost compared to commercially available prices. Fill out our form online, get a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional, and receive your medication in the mail. Get started on your weight loss journey today!

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

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Azuri, J, Hammerman, A, Aboalhasan, E, Sluckis, B, Arbel, R. (2023). Liraglutide versus semaglutide for weight reduction—a cost needed to treat analysis. Obesity (Silver Spring). 31(6), 1510-1513. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.23752

Chao, A. M., Tronieri, J. S., Amaro, A., & Wadden, T. A. (2022). Clinical Insight on Semaglutide for Chronic Weight Management in Adults: Patient Selection and Special Considerations. Drug design, development and therapy, 16, 4449–4461. https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S365416

Lau, D. C. W., Batterham, R. L., & le Roux, C. W. (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

Maciejewski, M. L., Arterburn, D. E., Van Scoyoc, L., Smith, V. A., Yancy, W. S., Jr, Weidenbacher, H. J., Livingston, E. H., & Olsen, M. K. (2016). Bariatric Surgery and Long-term Durability of Weight Loss. JAMA surgery, 151(11), 1046–1055. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamasurg.2016.2317

Rubino, D., Abrahamsson, N., Davies, M., Hesse, D., Greenway, F. L., Jensen, C., Lingvay, I., Mosenzon, O., Rosenstock, J., Rubio, M. A., Rudofsky, G., Tadayon, S., Wadden, T. A., Dicker, D., & STEP 4 Investigators (2021). Effect of Continued Weekly Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Placebo on Weight Loss Maintenance in Adults With Overweight or Obesity: The STEP 4 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 325(14), 1414–1425. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.3224

Singh, G., et al. (2021, October 27). Wegovy (semaglutide): a new weight loss drug for chronic weight management. Journal of Investigative Medicine. 70(1), 5-13.        http://doi.org/10.1136/jim-2021-001952 

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U. S. Food and Drug Administration. (May 31, 2023). Medications Containing Semaglutide Marketed for Type 2 Diabetes or Weight Loss. Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/medications-containing-semaglutide-marketed-type-2-diabetes-or-weight-loss 

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