Hartford HealthCare and Yale doctors warn of copycat weight loss drugs

The Ozempic TikTok challenge was all the rage last year. What people thought was a weight loss miracle came with serious concerns if not taken with the advice of a doctor.

Mark Sudol

Mar 20, 2023, 9:30 PM

Updated 433 days ago

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People continue to use the diabetes drug Ozempic for weight loss, and some are now using substitutes because the drug is so expensive.
The Ozempic TikTok challenge was all the rage last year. What people thought was a weight loss miracle came with serious concerns if not taken with the advice of a doctor. Supplies of the diabetic drug Ozempic are now more plentiful.
"So, people are going to the beauty spas to get Ozempic treatment particularly for weight loss," says Dr. Andrew Wong with Hartford HealthCare.
Because Ozempic is so expensive and may not be covered by insurance, people are looking for substitutes of semaglutide, which is the main ingredient found in Ozempic.
Doctors say compounding pharmacies are making these alternative drugs that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and they could be dangerous.
"Semaglutide can cause vomiting, it can cause abdominal pain, sometimes it can cause a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis," said Wong.
The Yale School of Medicine did clinical trials of other diabetes-weight loss drugs and found more than a 20% weight reduction in people with obesity. But they found side effects too.
"They would expect nausea, they could expect some vomiting sometimes more commonly constipation," said Dr. Jorge Moreno with the Yale School of Medicine.
Doctors say in some cases where Ozempic is too expensive, they can write a letter of support or an appeal letter to get the medication approved.
Wong says he hopes insurance companies and legislators will make drugs like Ozempic more affordable for people with obesity.


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