Semaglutide is the active ingredient in Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus, Originally studied for type 2 diabetes, it was initially approved for this indication. In 2021, it was approved for chronic weight management and named Wegovy.
Wegovy contains a higher dose (2.4 mg) of semaglutide than Ozempic (.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg). It is self-administered as an injection once weekly and provides better weight loss than the oral medications. The average weight loss for patients treated with Wegovy is 15-16% weight loss at 1 year, or 35 pounds, although in our clinical experience, it is not unusual for patients to lose far more than this when combined with one of CNC’s intensive programs.
Semaglutide mimics the effects of a hormone the human body makes called GLP-1. This hormone is released by our gut when we eat, and not only lowers blood sugar, but also signals the brain that we have just eaten –> that we are satisfied. Patients treated with Wegovy find their hunger and cravings go away and are often replaced with a desire to eat healthier options. It is not a stimulant, so doesn’t keep you awake at night. Side effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and fatigue (among others – see Wegovy web site here), but tend to fade as the body gets used to the medication.
Wegovy has been approved by our FDA for chronic weight management for adults with a BMI of 30 or more, or 27 or more with a weight-related comorbidity. It is also approved for use in kids down to age 12 if the BMI is at the 95th percentile for age or above. It is quite expensive (~$1,000 per month), but people with insurance coverage often get it for $25 / month, or even free with the manufacturer’s coupon. Before discussing whether or not Wegovy is right for you, it is important to check with your insurance to see if you have coverage, or visit wegovy.com and use their tool.
Update August 8th, 2023: Wegovy has now been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 20%. Read more here.
Ozempic has been approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Most insurance plans cover Ozempic, but only for patients with diabetes. We receive many requests from patients for Ozempic when patients erroneously believe their insurance will cover it – it will not unless there is a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The cost for Ozempic is similar to the cost for Wegovy.
Rybelsus is an oral form of semaglutide – it is taken as one pill daily in the morning on an empty stomach with a full glass of water. Again, it is only approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The current dose goes as high as 14 mg daily, but a 50 mg dose is in development for the purpose of chronic weight management, and has shown similar weight loss as Wegovy. Again, the cost is similar to Wegovy.
We have received countless reports of patients being sold “Compounded semaglutide” under the belief that this is the same safe, effective, fda-approved version of semaglutide as what is found in Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case. The FDA released a warning that the version of compounded semaglutide being used by compounding pharmacies is likely a salt form of semaglutide for which no human data exists. We do not know if it is safe or if it is effective. We are advising our patients to listen to the FDA and not use compounded semaglutide.
Read the FDA warning here.
In addition, on June 21st, 2023, Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of authentic semaglutide, marketed as Rybelsus, Ozempic, and Wegovy, initiated lawsuits against multiple centers selling compounded semaglutide along with multiple manufacturers of compounded semaglutide. Read more about the lawsuit here.
We reserve the right not to accept patients who are using compounded semaglutide, as we do not want to accept the unknown risks of this treatment.
Further, neither Dr. Lazarus nor Heather will prescribe or refill compounded semaglutide, for all the reasons listed above.
*Weight Loss medications are not appropriate for all individuals and will be prescribed only if deemed an appropriate treatment option by Dr. Lazarus or Heather Thomas, PA-C. The purchase of prescription medications from us is completely optional – programs do not include the cost of medication. We stock many medications, but you are welcome to request a written prescription or have our providers e-prescribe to the pharmacy of your choice.