Wegovy shortage: What are your options for medical weight loss?

Wegovy shortage: What are your options for medical weight loss?

Wegovy shortage: What are your options for medical weight loss?

Limited supply of the weight loss drug Wegovy, or semaglutide, leaves many patients empty-handed. Learn about other alternatives for medical weight loss.

The Found Team
Last updated:
5 min read
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If you have a prescription for Wegovy® (semaglutide), you may already know that the weight loss drug has been in short supply since 2022—at least in three, and sometimes four, of its five dose strengths. People who need the medicine during the Wegovy shortage aren’t, however, without options. 

As recently as early July 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) included the lowest-strength doses of Wegovy on its drug shortage list as having limited availability: 

  • 0.25 mg
  • 0.5 mg
  • 1 mg

The two highest strength doses—1.7 mg and 2.4 mg—were listed as available in early July 2024.

The cause of Wegovy’s shortages is supply and demand. According to Novo Nordisk, Wegovy’s manufacturer, the market for the drug has rapidly exceeded its supply. The company says they’ve been “steadily increasing capacity to produce more Wegovy” and have doubled the amount of the lower dose strengths that are available in the U.S. as of early 2024. 

But why are the lower doses more affected? And what might this mean for your Wegovy refills? 

The answer may depend on when you were prescribed Wegovy for weight loss. The best way to find the right answer is to work with an obesity medicine specialist—someone familiar with the available weight loss medications and how to use them to personalize treatment, such as the providers who work with Found.

Here’s what to know about the Wegovy shortage—and your options for medication to help you lose weight. 

Who is affected by the Wegovy shortage?

The current Wegovy shortage will most often affect those new to the drug. That’s because they’re the ones who are prescribed the lowest doses as they start treatment. The demand for lower doses of Wegovy has increased faster than the supply can keep up, creating shortages for those ready to begin taking the drug.

Physicians typically prescribe Wegovy according to Novo Nordisk’s recommended dosing schedule. Wegovy requires a three-month-long loading period. During this time, dosing usually increases gradually. 

The Wegovy dosages the manufacturer recommends for people brand new to the once-weekly injections are: 

  • Weeks 1-4: 0.25 mg each week
  • Weeks 5-8: 0.5 mg each week
  • Weeks 9-12: 1 mg each week 

Patients usually begin a maintenance dose of 1.7 mg by week 13 (month four). A provider will determine whether it is appropriate to continue that amount for maintenance, or if a 2.4 mg dose strength can best help a patient achieve their long-term weight loss goals.

Are other weight loss drugs in short supply?

Two other drugs used for weight loss have a similar story: They’re also on the FDA’s Drug Shortages List, which cites increased demand as the reason for a tirzepatide shortage, which may last until June 2024.

Mounjaro® (tirzepatide) is an injectable receptor dual agonist drug for type 2 diabetes, but it’s also prescribed off-label for weight loss. In November 2023, the FDA approved a weight loss drug with the same active ingredient, tirzepatide. They are essentially the same Eli Lilly drug. However, one is indicated for diabetes, and the other, branded ZepboundTM, is indicated for weight loss.

There’s been a shortage of both since mid-December 2023. 

What to do when Wegovy is out of stock 

 If your pharmacy doesn’t have Wegovy in stock—which can happen with any drug—you can check with other pharmacies to see if they have the drug. Some Wegovy users have had success filling their prescriptions at other drug store locations. 

But what if you’re having trouble hunting down your Wegovy? You may want to ask your health care provider if you should take something else, at least while the supply of Wegovy is still limited. Your provider may also have other ideas to help you fill your prescription.

Weight loss drugs to consider during a Wegovy shortage 

Wegovy belongs to a powerful class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. These drugs mimic a hormone produced in the gut that affects appetite and blood sugar levels. GLP-1 agonists feel you fuller, faster and for longer. 

Another drug in this class is Ozempic®, a type 2 diabetes drug. It has the same active ingredient, semaglutide, as Wegovy and is made by the same manufacturer, Novo Nordisk. Although these drugs use the identical active ingredient, they were approved for different purposes. 

GLP-1 agonist drugs continue to generate buzz on social media for their role in dramatic weight loss. But don’t forget that there are weight loss drugs that existed long before social media. Now or later in your weight loss journey, you may also want to explore these pre-social media drugs that have helped people manage overweight and obesity.

A health care provider trained in obesity medicine, such as those at Found, can use the available drugs to personalize a treatment specifically to work with your biology to help you lose weight. 

Found providers are trained in obesity medicine. They also use MetabolicPrintTM, a proprietary assessment tool that helps them evaluate your biology and the unique root cause of your weight challenges. Using the information from your MetabolicPrint profile, Found providers personalize your weight loss prescription plan. They can prescribe from a portfolio of over ten different medications that can be combined in over 70 ways to help you lose weight. So, if you have trouble finding Wegovy, a Found provider can help you find another treatment so you can reach your goals. Prescriptions are up to a medical provider's discretion.

Possible downsides to Wegovy and other GLP-1 drugs for weight loss

While Wegovy and other GLP-1 or GLP-1/GIP drugs can be very effective, they can also be very expensive. The list price for the drugs can be more than $1,000 a month, though you may pay less with insurance or through cost-saving programs, such as manufacturer coupons

Older, oral drugs are often a fraction of the cost—pennies per day in some cases—of GLP-1s. Out-of-pocket expenses may influence your thoughts about what to take during a Wegovy shortage. 

Risk factors may also factor into your decision. All drugs come with risks. Wegovy and other GLP-1 and GLP-1/GIP receptor agonist medications may increase your risk of thyroid tumors. These drugs carry a “black box” warning about a rare risk of certain types of thyroid cancers.

 If you take a GLP-1 or GLP-1/GIP, the FDA states that you should contact your health care provider immediately if you have trouble swallowing, develop hoarseness, or feel swelling or a lump in your neck. You should not take these medications if you have a personal or family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 or medullary thyroid cancer. GLP-1s are not recommended for anyone with insulin-dependent diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. Find detailed side effect and risk information for specific medications by name on our dedicated medication page.
 

Don’t wait to start your weight loss journey

If Wegovy seems right for you, don’t let drug shortages delay your plans to put a plan of action in place. Found’s providers can help you find an alternative to help you reach your goals. Found also offers one-on-one coaching to encourage you every step of the way, and an online community where you can ask and answer weight loss questions among people on the same path. Found can also help you make valuable lifestyle changes with an in-app program designed by doctors and behavioral scientists. 

And, yes, Found can also help you boost your weight loss with prescription medication. It will be just one of many tools in a clinically supported plan that considers your metabolism, biology, psychology, other medications, supplements, and more. 

GLP-1 and GLP-1/GIP prescriptions, filled through your local pharmacy, are now available as part of Found's weight-loss toolkit. While these medications are effective for weight loss, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone. Eligibility for a GLP-1 or GLP-1/GIP medication is based on a thorough evaluation of your medical history, eating behavior, lab work, and insurance coverage. If a drug is not appropriate for you, our providers will work with you to determine an effective medication for your health profile.

About Found 

Found is among the largest medically-supported telehealth weight care clinics in the country, serving nearly 250,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

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Published date:
July 9, 2024
Ready to lose weight and live your healthiest life?
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Meet the author
The Found Team
The Found Team

Sources

FDA Drug Shortages. (n.d.). Retrieved July 9, 2024, from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/drugshortages/dsp_ActiveIngredientDetails.cfm?AI=Semaglutide%20Injection&st=c

Wegovy® Dosing Schedule | Wegovy® (semaglutide) Injection 2.4 Mg. (n.d.). Novo Nordisk. Retrieved January 9, 2024, from https://www.wegovy.com/taking-wegovy/dosing-schedule.html

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