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Weight Loss

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How to get semaglutide for weight loss — from A to Z, a guide

Written by Emily Van Devender

Published: Jun 11, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Goldina Erowele, PharmD, MBA

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If you’re seeing people lose weight on semaglutide (aka Wegovy or Ozempic), you may want to know more about this weight-loss medication. This article covers everything you need to know about how to get semaglutide for weight loss along with who can prescribe it to where you can buy and everything in between. 

If you’re looking for options to manage your weight, find a weight-loss provider on Klarity today and have an appointment in as little as 24 hours to find out if a semaglutide prescription may be your answer to shedding some pounds.

Get a prescription for semaglutide online in as little as 24 hours.

How to get semaglutide for weight loss? Step 1, get a prescription

If you’re interested in using semaglutide for weight loss, you need a prescription. To get one, you want to talk to a licensed healthcare provider about whether or not semaglutide is right for you. Providers who can prescribe weight loss and other medications include:

  • Primary care physicians (PCPs)
  • General practitioners (GPs)
  • Endocrinologists (specialists in hormonal and metabolic disorders)
  • Bariatric physicians (specialists in obesity treatment)
  • Nurse practitioners (NPs)
  • Physician assistants/associates (PAs)

You can find a provider through your insurance company, referrals from friends or family, or on a telehealth platform like Klarity. Getting semaglutide for weight loss could be as easy as:

  1. Booking an appointment with a qualified provider who can assess your health status and need for weight loss medication and order any needed lab work.
  2. Getting a weight loss plan from your provider, which may include semaglutide or another medication. 
  3. Starting your weight loss plan and taking semaglutide as prescribed by your provider. 
  4. Following up with your provider regularly so they can adjust your dose, help manage side effects, and track your progress.

There may be a few added steps depending on your insurance company and whether you meet the criteria for taking semaglutide, but if you do, getting it is that simple. 

What is semaglutide for weight loss?

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1) medication. It’s the active ingredient in 2 brand name medications — Ozempic and Wegovy.

Ozempic was first approved in 2017 to lower blood sugar and A1C levels for people with type 2 diabetes. People taking Ozempic lost weight too. And Ozempic’s manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, got it approved as Wegovy in 2021. Wegovy is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for long-term weight management in people with obesity or overweight.

Other forms of semaglutide include Rybelsus, which is an oral instead of injectable form of semaglutide for adults with type-2 diabetes. Compounded semaglutide is also available. 

If you’re using semaglutide for weight loss, your provider will likely prescribe Wegovy or compounded semaglutide. Unless, you have type 2 diabetes and also need help controlling your blood sugar, in which case they may prescribe Ozempic. Using Ozempic soley for weight loss is an off-label use, which means using it for something it’s not FDA-approved for. 

Who can take semaglutide?

Anyone with a prescription can get semaglutide. But not everyone may be eligible for a prescription — or need it. 

Your provider should only prescribe semaglutide for weight loss if they determine it’s right for you and you don’t have any contraindications to taking it. 

Wegovy is FDA-approved for weight loss for people over the age of 12 who are overweight or obese. Wegovy and Ozempic are also approved to lower the risk of major cardiovascular events, like stroke. 

Being overweight for Wegovy is considered a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater with one weight-related health condition, like high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or a BMI of 30 or greater without other conditions.


How effective is semaglutide for weight loss?

Semaglutide works well for weight loss. As a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1), it affects appetite and leads to weight loss. GLP-1 interacts with parts of the brain that control satiety (the feeling of fullness). Semaglutide weight loss injections also slow the movement of food through the stomach, so people taking it feel full longer. The net result when used as intended with a reduced-calorie diet and increased activity, is that people taking semaglutide lose weight.

Results of a 68-week double-blind trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that obese or overweight adult trial participants who took 2.4-milligram dose of semaglutide once a week combined with exercise and a healthy diet lost an average of 14.9% body weight. 

The results of the SELECT trial published in Nature Medicine found that people with obesity or overweight taking semaglutide for 65 weeks continued to lose weight for up to 4 years. Participants had an average reduction in weight of 10.2% after 208 weeks. 

What does semaglutide cost?

What you pay for any prescription drug depends on your insurance plan and the pharmacy you choose. Here’s a breakdown of expected retail costs — what you pay without insurance — for each form of semaglutide.

  • Wegovy: $1,430 for a one-month supply of any dose
  • Compounded semaglutide: as little as $79 a month
  • Ozempic: $1,029 for a one-month supply of any dose
  • Rybelsus: $1,029 for for a one-month supply (30 tablets)

Does insurance cover semaglutide for weight loss?

Insurance coverage for Wegovy and insurance for Ozempic are available sometimes. Many insurance plans require prior authorization (PA) for weight loss and other medications though. Your insurance provider will probably require a PA for Wegovy, Ozempic, or Rybelsus. If that’s the case, your healthcare provider can submit a PA form to your insurance company. 

While less expensive than name-brand drugs, compounded semaglutide medications aren’t always covered by insurance. If you choose compounded semaglutide, talk to your insurance company to find out what it covers and which pharmacies might be available to you.

Also, if your provider prescribes one of these medications off-label or you don’t meet the FDA-approved criteria, your insurance company may deny your prior authorization and not cover your med.

Where to find semaglutide

Wondering where to find Wegovy in stock or Ozempic? You can get brand-name semaglutide from a retail pharmacy or compounded semaglutide from a compounding pharmacy if you have a prescription. Know though that a high demand for Wegovy and Ozempic that started in 2022 led to shortages of these medications.

Novo Nordisk, who makes Wegovy and Ozempic, has worked to ramp up production. Still, there will likely be shortages of some doses through 2024. To find out if you can get your medication, you can check the FDA drug shortages database (search for semaglutide), which currently reports shortages for all but the 2.4-milligram dose of Wegovy, or the Novo Nordisk supply update page for Wegovy. 

If you’re looking for compounded semaglutide, find a reputable US-based compounding pharmacy or standard pharmacy that offers compounding services and is registered with the FDA. Learn more about compounded semaglutide.

How to get semaglutide for weight loss online

You can get a semaglutide prescription online from licensed care providers using telehealth. Your existing provider may offer telehealth. If not, see if you can find a provider that offers online appointments through your insurance plan. Or, use a platform, like Klarity, that lets you find healthcare and weight-loss providers and make appointments online in as little as 24 hours. 

What to do if you can’t get a prescription, insurance coverage, or find semaglutide

It happens. People want to use semaglutide, usually as Wegovy, and their provider doesn’t think it’s right for them, their insurance company won’t cover the cost of Wegovy or Ozempic, or they can’t find it in stock. There are options if you find yourself in this boat. 

If your provider doesn’t think semaglutide is right for you, ask about another option, from this list of the best prescription weight loss medications or others.

If your insurance company won’t cover it, you can appeal your prior authorization denial and you can try compounded semaglutide, which costs much less.

If you can’t find Wegovy or Ozempic in stock, see if your provider can help. Compounded semaglutide is an option here as well.

What to know if you start semaglutide

If you do get a prescription and start taking Wegovy or compounded semaglutide for weight loss, here’s a run down of dosing, side effects, and other things to know and discuss with your provider.

Semaglutide doses for weight loss and how to use it

Semaglutide and Wegovy dosing for weight management is available in .25-, .50, 1.0, 1.7, and 2.4-milligram doses. You start out at 0.25-milligram once a week for 4 weeks. You usually increase your dose to the next higher one every 4 weeks until you reach your maintenance dose. Maintenance doses are usually 2.4 milligrams a week but may be less if you don’t tolerate the 2.4-milligram dose.

Side effects of semaglutide for weight loss

Semaglutide can cause side effects in some people. That doesn’t mean that everyone who takes prescription semaglutide will have side effects. Some common Wegovy side effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Injection site reactions 

These may be worse when you start taking it or increase your dose. They may also get better with time.

There’s a possibility for more serious side effects and adverse reactions with semaglutide too, including:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Kidney or gallbladder problems
  • Vision changes
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts 

If you have side effects from semaglutide or any weight-loss pills, talk to your provider. If you experience life-threatening or severe side effects, call 911 immediately.

Contraindications, precautions, and boxed warning for semaglutide for weight loss

While semaglutide is considered safe for most people, specific contraindications or risk factors can make it unsuitable for some.

According to the FDA boxed warning, semaglutide has an increased risk of causing thyroid C-cell tumors. For this reason, semaglutide isn’t advised for people with a personal or family history of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2B, which is a rare disorder of the endocrine system.

Additionally, don’t take semaglutide if you:

  • Have a prior serious hypersensitivity or allergic reaction to semaglutide or any inactive ingredients
  • Have a history of thyroid cancer
  • Have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or severe digestive system disorders
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Are under the age of 12

Key takeaway on getting semaglutide for weight loss

Semaglutide is the active ingredient in Wegovy, Ozempic, Rybelsus, and compounded semaglutide. It’s a GLP-1 agonist medication proven to help people lose weight. 

To get semaglutide for weight loss you need to get a prescription from a qualified healthcare provider who can assess your health and your need for weight loss medication.

Your provider may have to submit a prior authorization request before your insurance company will pay for your prescription. They may deny your prior authorization if you don’t meet eligibility requirements. 

If you can’t get a prescription, you can ask your doctor about other weight loss pills. If you can’t get insurance coverage or find Wegovy in stock, compounded semaglutide is an alternative to talk to your provider about.

Talk to a provider about semaglutide for weight loss in as little as 24 hours

Getting connected to the right healthcare professional is the first step to using prescription semaglutide to lose weight. And finding one is a click away. Find a provider on Klarity today. Appointments are available in as little as 24 hours, affordable, and can be done online.

Sources

DailyMed, LABEL: OZEMPIC- semaglutide injection, solution, Sept. 2023, https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=adec4fd2-6858-4c99-91d4-531f5f2a2d79 

Drugs.com, Ozempic Prices, Coupons and Patient Assistance Programs, May 2024, https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/ozempic 

Drugs.com, Wegovy Prices, Coupons and Patient Assistance Programs, April 2024, https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/wegovy 

Drugs.com, Rybelsus Prices, Coupons and Patient Assistance Programs, May 2024, https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/rybelsus 

Daniel Enright, et al., Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health, How US commercial health plans are covering semaglutide (Wegovy®) for Obesity Management. Aug. 2023, https://cevr.tuftsmedicalcenter.org/news/how-us-commercial-health-plans-are-covering-semaglutide-wegovy-for-obesity-management-2 

FDA, FDA Drug Shortages, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/drugshortages/dsp_ActiveIngredientDetails.cfm?AI=Semaglutide%20Injection&st=c

JAMA Network Open, Wissam Ghusn, et al., Weight loss outcomes associated with SEMAGLUTIDE treatment for patients with overweight or obesity. Sept., 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9486455/ 

Nature News, Donna H. Ryan, et al., Long-term weight loss effects of semaglutide in obesity without diabetes in the select trial, May 2024. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-024-02996-7 

New England Journal of Medicine, John P.H. Wilding., et al., Once-weekly semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity, Feb. 2021, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2032183 

Novo Nordisk, Updates about Wegovy, https://www.novonordisk-us.com/supply-update.html

UCLA Health, Semaglutide for weight loss – what you need to know, Jan. 2023, https://www.uclahealth.org/news/article/semaglutide-weight-loss-what-you-need-know.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Medications Containing Semaglutide Marketed for Type 2 Diabetes or Weight Loss, Jan. 2024, https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/medications-containing-semaglutide-marketed-type-2-diabetes-or-weight-loss

U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Understanding Unapproved Use of Approved Drugs “Off Label,” Feb. 2018, https://www.fda.gov/patients/learn-about-expanded-access-and-other-treatment-options/understanding-unapproved-use-approved-drugs-label 

WFYI, Morgan Watkins, Drug shortages have hit near-record highs. It’s getting harder to shield patients from the impacts, May 2023, https://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/drug-shortages-have-hit-near-record-highs-its-getting-harder-to-shield-patients-from-the-impacts 

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you have regarding your health.

How we reviewed this article: This article goes through rigorous fact-checking by a team of medical reviewers. Reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the author.

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