How to Get Semaglutide for Weight Loss When You're Non-Diabetic

Updated

May 30, 2024

Published

Nov 15, 2023

How to Get Semaglutide for Weight Loss When You’re Non-Diabetic.

Woman on computer
Woman on computer
Woman on computer

Are you struggling to shed those stubborn pounds? Perhaps you’ve caught wind of Semaglutide, a medication designed for managing Type 2 Diabetes that is now making waves as a weight loss solution. Maybe you’ve read about how it can suppress your appetite and make you feel full faster.¹ You've probably even seen amazing before and after photos of people who've shed dozens of pounds after using the medication.

And maybe after reading all those glowing testimonials about how it’s changed others' lives for the better, you want to give it a try. But there's one problem: you're not diabetic. And, accessing this medication when you're not diabetic can feel like navigating a maze. 

We’ve got good news: Though Semaglutide was originally developed for Type 2 Diabetes to lower blood sugar, it’s also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight management under the brand name Wegovy®.² And today, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about getting Semaglutide for weight loss as a nondiabetic person. From getting a prescription to addressing cost concerns, this article will help you on your quest to slim down.

A woman holding a vial and smiling

What Is Semaglutide? 

Semaglutide is a medicine that belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) receptor agonists. It's an active ingredient that works by mimicking the action of the natural hormone GLP-1 and promotes the production of insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels.² The first GLP-1 receptor agonists gained FDA approval in 2005 to improve glycemic control and have been utilized for nearly two decades to aid individuals with Type 2 Diabetes.³

Are There Different Forms of Semaglutide? 

Semaglutide is available in different forms, including subcutaneous injection and oral tablets.³ Currently, three notable brand medications on the market contain Semaglutide as the active ingredient:⁴ Wegovy®,⁵ Rybelsus®,⁶ and Ozempic®.⁷ These diverse forms cater to varying patient needs and preferences, allowing for more personalized treatment approaches.

Among these options, Wegovy® stands out as the specific formulation of Semaglutide intended for weight loss. In 2021, Wegovy® received FDA approval specifically for weight management in those without Type 2 Diabetes.⁸ 

This distinction highlights Semaglutide's versatility in addressing Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. While Rybelsus® and Ozempic® are primarily indicated for the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes, Wegovy's® approval signifies a significant advancement in leveraging Semaglutide's therapeutic benefits for combating obesity. These options provide patients and healthcare professionals with a range of choices to tailor treatment plans according to individual needs and preferences.

Female doctor measuring female patient’s waist

Semaglutide and Weight Loss 

Semaglutide aids weight loss by mimicking GLP-1 receptor agonists in the central nervous system. Specifically, Semaglutide acts on GLP-1 receptors in the hypothalamus, a brain region involved in regulating food intake.⁹ By binding to these receptors, Semaglutide influences appetite control mechanisms — leading to reduced appetite and hunger — while enhancing feelings of fullness by slowing down gastric emptying. This interaction helps people manage their food intake more effectively, contributing to weight loss. 

Wegovy® is approved by the FDA for chronic weight management and can help people lose weight by making them feel less hungry and eat fewer calories. Other than these benefits, it can also protect the heart and prevent cardiovascular diseases associated with obesity, like heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular deaths.¹⁰ A clinical trial involving more than 17,000 adults with heart disease and obesity showed that the treatment reduced the risk of these events by 20% compared to a placebo.¹⁰

How Effective Is Semaglutide for Weight Loss?

If you’re wondering about the effectiveness of the medication in trimming excess weight, you’ll be pleased to know that it does work. Studies have shown that Semaglutide can help people lose weight compared to a placebo or other medications. Among a group of 102 overweight or obese patients, after 6 months on Semaglutide, 89 (87.3%) achieved a weight loss of 5% or more. 56 (54.9%) achieved a weight loss of 10% or more, and 24 (23.5%) achieved a weight loss of 15% or more, while 8 (7.8%) achieved a weight loss of 20% or more.¹¹

In another study on overweight adults, using Semaglutide led to an average weight loss of 15% after 68 weeks.¹²

But the treatment isn’t a miracle drug or a quick fix. Rather, it's a tool that can assist in achieving and maintaining a healthier weight. To achieve and maintain weight loss, individuals should commit to lifestyle changes by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.¹ 

It's important to note that longer studies are needed to evaluate its safety and effectiveness. Also, individual results may vary depending on starting weight, dose, duration, and adherence to lifestyle changes.

Bottle containing GLP-1 medication for Injection

Side Effects of Semaglutide

Though Semaglutide is generally well tolerated, it can cause temporary side effects. These are usually mild and improve over time as the patient's body adjusts to the medication. Some of the common side effects include:¹³

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Headache

  • Constipation

  • Abdominal pain

Some people may experience injection site reactions, like redness, swelling, or itching. But this should dissipate within a few days. If patients want to prevent this, they are advised to rotate the injection sites and avoid injecting into areas that are bruised, tender, or scarred.¹⁴

While the above side effects are manageable, there are adverse symptoms patients should look out for. If a patient experiences any of the following, they should reach out to their healthcare provider immediately:¹³

  • Sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.

  • Gaseous stomach pain, indigestion, recurrent fever.

  • Lump or swelling in the neck, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, or shortness of breath.

  • Allergic reactions, like rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat.

A list of common side effects of Semaglutide

Risks of Semaglutide 

The drug offers potential benefits for individuals looking to manage their weight effectively, but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution and carries inherent risks. Patients with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, or diabetic retinopathy should avoid using it because it can exacerbate these conditions. Also, individuals with kidney problems must exercise caution when considering Semaglutide.¹⁵

Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should steer clear of the treatment because it can pose risks to both the mother and the developing child.¹³ In fact, the FDA advises against using it if patients are pregnant or planning to conceive. Animal studies have shown that the treatment can cause birth defects, growth problems, and fetal death.⁷

Semaglutide may also interact with other medications or supplements. For example, some medicines that lower blood sugar levels may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).¹³ Given the complexity of drug interactions, it's best for patients to be transparent with their healthcare provider about any other treatment they're taking. This can make it easier for practitioners to monitor the patient’s progress and safety while they're on the treatment.

Can Semaglutide Be Prescribed for Non-Diabetic People?

Semaglutide can be prescribed to non-diabetic patients under the brand name Wegovy® for weight loss purposes. It's FDA-approved for chronic weight management and prescriptions can be given to patients if they meet certain criteria. For example, individuals should be considered overweight or obese and have one weight-related health problem, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.¹

Ozempic® is another viable option for those looking to shed a few pounds. Although it is prescribed for people with Type 2 Diabetes and not officially FDA-approved for weight loss, some practitioners may–under their professional judgment–prescribe it off-label to address obesity. Similar to Wegovy®, the patient's weight and weight-related health problems would be taken into account to prescribe the appropriate dose. 

Who Is Eligible for a Prescription? 

The FDA has given the green light for using Wegovy® among non-diabetic individuals who meet specific criteria.⁵ For example, adults grappling with obesity can be prescribed Wegovy®. Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or higher. Alternatively, for adults who are overweight (with a BMI of 27-30 kg/m2) Wegovy® can be prescribed if they have at least one other weight-related condition. This includes hypertension or dyslipidemia (abnormally high levels of cholesterol or fats in the blood). Wegovy® is also approved for adolescents aged 12 and above who are obese, with a BMI in the 95th percentile or greater for children their age and sex. 

But, Wegovy® isn’t suitable for everyone. It shouldn't be taken with other similar medications, nor has it been evaluated for use alongside other weight loss drugs. Additionally, those with a history of pancreatitis should avoid using Wegovy®. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if Wegovy® is the right option for weight management. 

Doctor holding semaglutide and writing prescription

How to Get Semaglutide for Weight Loss 

Below, we’ll answer commonly asked questions for those looking to get Semaglutide. 

Is Semaglutide Available Over-the-Counter? 

No. To get Semaglutide, patients need a prescription and  will have to visit a healthcare professional. They can do this by scheduling a consultation (online or in-person), where they can discuss their weight management goals. During the consultation, individuals will undergo a comprehensive medical assessment to determine if the treatment is suitable for them. So it is vital they openly discuss their medical history and any current medications. If the practitioner deems the medication fit for the patient, they will prescribe an appropriate brand and dose.

Can I Get Semaglutide Online?

Semaglutide is not available for purchase online without a prescription. A doctor's consultation is necessary to obtain a prescription for Semaglutide. Fortunately, many healthcare providers offer online consultations. This makes it convenient for individuals to discuss their needs and potentially receive a prescription for Semaglutide from the comfort of their own home. 

How Much Does a Semaglutide Prescription Cost? Will Insurance Cover It? 

The cost of a Semaglutide prescription depends on the brand, dosage, insurance coverage, and pharmacy. Without insurance, patients can expect to pay around $1,349 per month for a Wegovy® prescription.¹⁶

If the patient is insured — and signs up for Wegovy's® "We Go Together" support program -– they can expect a significant reduction in costs, and pay as little as $0 per month. This program also offers savings for patients without insurance, who can expect to save up to $500 per month on their prescriptions.¹⁷

On the other hand, Ozempic® averages around $1029 per month. Similar to Wegovy®, insurance can alleviate an individual's out-of-pocket expenses. Patients can expect to pay as little as $25 or even nothing at all if covered by a copay assistance program.¹⁸

Smiling woman running outdoors

Administering Semaglutide for Weight Loss

How is Semaglutide administered, exactly? It can be administered orally or via injection, depending on the brand form. When it comes to Wegovy®, after it is prescribed by a practitioner, it is administered once a week via injection. Patients can administer it themselves in the comfort of their homes. In some cases, patients may be prescribed Compounded Semaglutide, usually at a different dose and frequency than the standard Ozempic®.

When on Semaglutide, it's essential to understand that the medication is most effective when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Patients are often advised to follow a low-calorie diet and increase their physical activity while taking the medication to support sustainable weight loss.¹

Wegovy® is taken as a weekly injection under the skin.⁵ Rybelsus® and Ozempic® have a similar mechanism of action and can treat Type 2 Diabetes by stimulating the pancreas to release insulin to help lower blood glucose.⁶ ⁷ The main difference between the two is that the former is taken orally, while the latter, like Wegovy®, is taken as a weekly injection.

How Much Semaglutide Is Needed for Weight Loss in Non-Diabetics? 

The dose and frequency of Semaglutide varies depending on the condition being treated. For Wegovy®, the typical dose is 2.4 mg administered weekly as a subcutaneous (under the skin). But patients don't start with this high dose right away. Instead, a lower dose of 0.25 mg is initiated. Over the course of several weeks — usually every 4 weeks –– the dose gradually increases until it reaches the target dose of 2.4 mg. This helps reduce the risk of side effects, like gastrointestinal problems, and for the body to adjust to the medication.⁵

If the practitioner does provide off-label Ozempic®, they will prescribe appropriate doses after a medical evaluation. Patients should also discuss the pros and cons of off-label Ozempic® use with their practitioner.

Doctor giving a consultation

How Long Do You Stay on Semaglutide for Weight Loss?

The duration of Semaglutide for weight loss (and management) varies from one person to the next and depends on the dose and the individual's response to the drug. Clinical trials suggest that most people who have undergone treatment lost at least 5% of their body weight after 20 weeks, and at least 10% after 40 weeks. The average weight loss — based on consistent use and coupled with a modification in lifestyle -– was about 15% after 68 weeks.¹⁹

How Long Will the Results Last?

The duration of weight loss results varies depending on the treatment and lifestyle changes, but weight loss effects with Semaglutide have been shown to last for years with continued use.²⁰ ²¹ In one study, obese individuals observed significant and sustained weight loss over 68 weeks, with an average weight reduction of 15%.²²

These results are not guaranteed for everyone, and some patients may need to use the medication for longer or shorter periods to achieve their weight goals. A consultation with a medical practitioner is the best way to determine how long you may need to be on Semaglutide.

However, upon treatment withdrawal, participants regained two-thirds of lost weight within a year, highlighting the chronic nature of obesity and the need for ongoing treatment.²³ Luckily, of the anti-obesity medications available, people taking Semaglutide tend to stick with it the longest, likely due to its ability to be well tolerated by the body.²⁰

Overall, it’s important to highlight that results are best when patients make lifestyle changes like reducing their food intake and increasing their amount and level of physical activity in conjunction with administration of Semaglutide.  

How Compounding Pharmacies Can Help with the Semaglutide Shortage 

Due to increased demand, Semaglutide has been on the FDA drug shortage list since May 2023.²⁴ This has affected the availability and affordability of the medication for many patients who need it. But there is a possible solution: compounding pharmacies.

Compounding pharmacies specialize in preparing customized medications for individual patients based on their specific needs and preferences.²⁵ Where the shortage of Semaglutide is concerned, these pharmacies can alleviate the strain by using active ingredients from FDA-licensed facilities and following standards and regulations to compound medication.²⁵ This adherence helps them provide the medication without compromising its quality and safety. 

They can also offer different dosages, formulations, and routes of administration than commercially available medication.²⁵ For example, they can compound Semaglutide in capsules, tablets, or injections, based on the patient's preference and medical condition. These pharmacies often work closely with prescribers and patients to ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of Compounded Semaglutide.²⁶

A person holding a smartphone with an online pharmacy app

Get Started with Compounded Semaglutide for Weight Loss from Henry Meds 

Accessing Compounded Semaglutide is safe and easy through Henry Meds. Henry Meds works with licensed and accredited compounding pharmacies that can provide you with Compounded Semaglutide during the shortage. The providers on the Henry platform can assist in determining the best dosage, formulation, and route of administration for your weight management goals. They also offer affordable prices and convenient delivery for your treatment. 

If you want to kick start your weight loss journey, speak with a healthcare provider from Henry Meds today. Booking an appointment is a straightforward process. You begin by choosing your desired program on our website. After selecting your location, you can choose an appointment time. You will then be able to subscribe to our services. Once you’ve subscribed, you will be asked to fill out a short medical intake form online. Once completed, schedule a convenient online visit, and you will receive a confirmation email with all the necessary details of your appointment. During the visit, you will be able to discuss your medical history, current medications, weight management goals, and any concerns you may have. 

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.

Please note: Henry Meds does not offer Ozempic®, Rybelsus®, or Wegovy®, 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. 

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