Many people are talking about Wegovy and how well it works for weight loss. But, they are also talking about the price. According to the manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, Wegovy, generic name semaglutide, has a list price of $1,349.02. Unfortunately, this hefty price tag is out of most people’s reach, leading them to consider alternatives. Most people in the US and abroad look at the prices of American healthcare and pharmaceuticals and shake their heads. So what are the alternatives?
Wegovy is prescription only. Until the generic drug semaglutide becomes available, there are only a few viable alternatives.
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Obesity is a chronic disease. Like most chronic diseases, it comes with health and financial costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41.9% of US adults meet the criteria for obesity. This is an increase from 30.5% in 1999. The percentage of American adults with severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.
Seven out of ten adults and three out of every ten children have either overweight or obesity. According to the School of Public Health & Health Services at George Washington University, the medical cost of obesity in the United States is somewhere between $147 billion and $210 billion per year. Medicare and Medicaid spend $61.8 billion on healthcare treating obesity. The projected cost of obesity is expected to be around $580 billion annually by 2030.
Individually, excess medical costs to treat obesity are over $1,800 per person per year. A recent study analyzing obesity and its financial costs found that obesity costs are higher for women than for men, and medical costs for everyone increase with age. Medical costs are lowest for women with a BMI of 20.5 and men with a BMI of 23.5.
Obesity is a chronic disease, and like many chronic diseases, it increases your risk for other diseases such as
Carrying excess weight affects nearly every body system. It decreases your lifespan and your quality of life. Losing as little as 5% to 10% of your body weight can affect your overall health. Just 5% weight loss can improve metabolic markers and cardiovascular risk factors. When considering the cost of Wegovy, it is important to weigh the medication cost against the financial and medical costs of having obesity.
Wegovy is a prescription medication. Wegovy has two medical indications for chronic weight management in people with a body mass index (BMI):
If you have insurance that may cover Wegovy, then talking with your healthcare provider and asking if you are a suitable candidate for Wegovy would make sense.
According to the Novo Nordisk website, if you have private or commercial insurance, you can save up to $200.00 per 28-day supply by paying with a $25.00 coupon that covers a 28-day supply. The $25.00 copay card can be used to cover up to six 28-day prescriptions or a total of 24 pens. The offer is valid through 6/30/22. After your sixth prescription fill or July 1, 2022, you will then pay as little as $25 per 28-day supply, $50 per 56-day supply, or $75 per 84-day supply of Wegovy. Subject to a maximum savings of $200 per 28-day supply (“Savings Benefit”), $400 per 56-day supply, or $600 per 84-day supply of Wegovy.
There is a list of program restrictions on the Novo Nordisk website.
Semaglutide will probably be available as a generic medication when the patents run out. Patents on medications in the US are in force for 20 years.
Compounding pharmacies will be able to get semaglutide much sooner by making their own drug formulations. However, compounded semaglutide will still require a prescription and a careful consumer who does not buy a compounded medication from a pharmacy that does not meet US standards for compounding medications and practices pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices.
Ozempic is a prescription medication that is FDA-approved to treat type-2 diabetes. Like Wegovy, Ozempic comes in a pre-filled, disposable, single-use pen injector. Ozempic and Wegovy are both started at a low dose that is gradually increased to reduce side effects. Ozempic is available up to a 1 mg dose. Wegovy is available up to 2.4 mg. Both medications contain semaglutide, and both are manufactured by Novo Nordisk. The only difference between the two medications is the dosage and the medical indications for each. Ozempic was FDA approved in 2017, and Wegovy was just approved in 2021. If your healthcare provider determines that a 1 mg dose is appropriate for you, then Ozempic may be a viable alternative to Wegovy.
Wegovy is not yet available in Canada. Health Canada approved it as a medication for weight management. It is expected to be available in Canada in the fall of 2022.
Ozempic 1 mg is available in Canada with a valid prescription. However, as with all online pharmacies, it is essential to ensure the pharmacy is certified. Certifying bodies in Canada include the International Pharmacy Association of British Columbia (IPABC) and the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA). You can also check the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site.
According to ElderLawAnswers, buying medications from Canadian pharmacies is not legal, but it happens. Under the Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1987, only the original manufacturer can bring prescription medications into the US. So, as long as the medications purchased in Canada are not controlled substances and do not exceed three months’ supply, patients can generally get them. The same applies to prescriptions purchased from online pharmacies.
If you are interested in losing excess weight, contact the healthcare professionals at Invigor Medical to learn more about your treatment options using semaglutide or another prescription medication for weight management.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.