Compounded Wegovy—Not a Safe Workaround for Weight Management

Dr. Christopher McGowan
diciembre 1, 2022

Wegovy is one of the latest weight loss medications approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration—offering millions of Americans struggling with obesity an exciting, proven new treatment option to consider. Approved in June 2021, Wegovy is for adults with obesity, as well as overweight adults struggling with at least one weight-related health condition (such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol).

How Does Wegovy Work?

Wegovy’s primary component is semaglutide, which was originally developed to treat diabetes by improving blood sugar control. Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor drug that stimulates a release of insulin in the body.

Immense Demand Leads to Long-Term Medication Shortages

Immediately upon approval, Wegovy was described as a “game-changer” by many doctors specializing in obesity care, and even a “revolutionary treatment” with the potential for impressive weight loss results. 

Unfortunately, just a few months after the Wegovy FDA approval, the drug was in short supply due to manufacturing issues affecting production. This, combined with the unprecedented demand for the prescription medication, eventually resulted in a huge supply shortage of Wegovy that has still not been rectified. In fact, as of August 2022, Novo Nordisk was pulling doses from the shelves to keep new patients from starting the drug since follow-up doses for already established patients were becoming nearly impossible to find. The pharmaceutical company also discontinued all promotions for the medication and asked clinicians to stop prescribing it.

Barriers to Getting Wegovy Lead to Risky Alternatives

While proven to be effective for both diabetes and weight loss, GLP-1 drugs are very expensive and not covered widely by insurance. Out of pocket costs can exceed $1,000 per month for the medication—putting them out of reach for many. Due to these supply chain issues and the high cost of Wegovy, many have been searching for alternative solutions that could offer comparable results.

As a result, compounding pharmacies and websites have been found attempting to “bootleg” the medication by compounding semaglutide and mixing it with other ingredients such as vitamin B12 and/or L-carnitine – offering it at a fraction of the cost. Dr. McGowan and his colleagues strongly advise against taking compounded Wegovy.

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” says Dr. Christopher McGowan, CEO and Medical Director of True You Weight Loss. “Simply put, compounded Wegovy is not safe. It falls into completely unregulated territory and is likely illegal as well. The safety and efficacy of combining Wegovy with other ingredients has never been studied, and compounding pharmacies are not regulated by the FDA.”

Dr. McGowan continues, “All weight loss patients should be aware that the only form of Wegovy that is safe to take is the FDA-approved injection made by Novo Nordisk. There are currently no workarounds or shortcuts to obtaining this prescription weight loss medication.”

Dr. McGowan Speaks to Nightly News on Compounding Pharmacies' Imitation Weight-Loss Medications Wegovy and Ozempic

How Much Weight Can I Lose on Wegovy?

The good news is that if you qualify for Wegovy and can get the Novo Nordisk medication—it can support safe, effective, long-term weight loss. In one of the FDA’s most successful Wegovy trials, participants lost an average of 14.9 percent of their initial body weight (about 33 pounds) over 68 weeks. Those who received a placebo lost only 2.4 percent. During the trials, the injection’s safety and efficacy were proven, with only some minor side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and constipation.

It’s important to note that the drug is intended to be taken indefinitely—just like you’d take medication for other chronic health problems such as elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol. Research shows that once a patient comes off the medication, they’re likely to regain the weight that’s been lost.

When Will Wegovy Become Widely Available?

While Novo Nordisk claimed in a recent financial report that Wegovy should be available in all doses by the end of 2022, obtaining Wegovy may still prove challenging for many patients with obesity. The high cost of this monthly prescription, and the fact that it is not covered by health insurance, could be an ongoing major hurdle for many adults struggling with chronic weight issues. Regardless, compounded Wegovy should never be considered as an alternative option to the real thing.    

To learn more our True You Weight Loss weight loss medication program, visit our True You Rx program page.

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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