People are purchasing copycat versions Ozempic or Wegovy. Are they safe?

Some pharmacies are offering different versions of weight-loss drugs Wegovy and Ozempic. What's in them and are they safe?

Robin Langois (58) was prescribed Wegovy to lose weight last year. Her insurance didn’t cover the high cost.

She discovered later on TikTok, however, that compounding pharmacies could sell semaglutide (the active ingredient in the drug), for a fraction the cost.

Langois from Tucson, Arizona said that she was initially nervous because of safety concerns. However, she found a telehealth provider who wrote her a prescription.

Langois stated that she isn’t 100% certain what Langois is experiencing. However, she noted that she has experienced feelings of fullness, weight loss and nausea as side effects of the drug . She said that it’s working as it should.

People are looking for alternatives to the brand-name medications Ozempic or Wegovy because of ongoing shortages. Both contain the active ingredient semaglutide.

Langois is one of those people who are looking for weight loss drugs that are difficult to obtain. Langois is one such person.

Novo Nordisk is the only manufacturer of Ozempic, Wegovy, and the patent-holder for semaglutide. Experts have begun to wonder where the drug’s ingredients are coming from, and whether they even use semaglutide.

“That’s the million dollar question,” Dr. Fatima Codey, a Boston-based physician who specializes in obesity and serves as an advisor to Novo Nordisk.

What is a compounding pharmacy?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, compounding pharmacies combine and alter drug ingredients to create medication tailored to patient needs.

Compounded medicines are often created from active ingredients found in drugs. That’s semaglutide in the case of Ozempic and Wegovy.

However, compounded drugs, even though they contain FDA-approved substances, are not approved by FDA. This means they are not monitored, tested, or regulated by FDA. Benjamin Jolley is a pharmacist who owns Jolley’s Compounding Pharmacy, Salt Lake City.

According to the FDA, hospitals may sometimes use compounded medications when there is no commercially available alternative. To prevent side effects or to remove dyes or preservatives that could cause allergic reactions, hospitals may reduce the pain medication dosage.

According to Jeremy Kahn (a spokesperson for FDA), the FDA will also grant exemptions to compounding pharmacists in order to make certain medications if they are in short supply.

Do compounding pharmacies offer real semaglutide Is it safe?

Dr. Chris McGowan runs a clinic for weight loss in Cary, North Carolina. He noticed that the popularity of compounded Wegovy and Ozempic is increasing.

“What I hear from my patients is that they have heard of this compounded semaglutide. He asked, “Can I try that?”

Mary Morgan Mills, 32 years old, from Raleigh, North Carolina, came into McGowan after she had taken a compounded form of semaglutide for approximately a year.

She was nauseated by the weekly injection she received at a wellness centre and lost only 15 pounds.

She said that “I felt baffled” and added that she had “bottles” of the product in her fridge.

Mills stated, “I’ve always wanted it to be tested to see what it really is, but I don’t know how to do it.”

The latest news about weight loss drugs

McGowan stated that compounding pharmacies are often not transparent about where they source the drug.

Jolley said that semaglutide is not available from him. He also suggested that compounding pharmacists might be giving semaglutide sodium to people. This is a modified and cheaper version of the compound intended for research purposes only. He said that semaglutide sodium isn’t FDA approved, making it illegal to sell the product.

He said that compounding pharmacists might also purchase large quantities of semaglutide wholesalers, and then separate it or mix it with other drugs.

Matt Buderer is a pharmacist who owns the Buderer Drug Company Compounding Pharmacy, Ohio. He said that this would essentially dilute medication. This would be absurd because it would make the drug less efficient.

McGowan stated that if the compounding pharmacies offering semaglutide are not selling the drug, it is a safety concern because the FDA may not have thoroughly reviewed the ingredients.

He said, “What I’m telling my patients is to be very cautious when considering any form compounded semaglutide/compounded tirzepatide” ( Tirzepatide, a diabetic drugmade in Eli Lilly, also has weight loss properties.

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