You must meet certain diagnostic criteria to get a prescription for semaglutide. However, due to its recent popularity for weight loss, the medication has become harder for many people to get.
Semaglutide is a drug that stimulates insulin production and can help manage weight. It belongs to a group of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.
It’s the main ingredient in three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
While Ozempic has become increasingly popular for weight loss, it’s approved only for management of type 2 diabetes. Taking Ozempic for weight loss is still considered an “off-label” use. Wegovy is the only form of semaglutide currently approved for weight loss.
Here’s what you need to know about getting semaglutide, whether you’re looking to manage diabetes symptoms or lose weight.
Your eligibility for a semaglutide prescription is up to the discretion of your healthcare professional. However, insurance will typically cover the cost of semaglutide only for people who meet certain criteria. These criteria vary by brand, as each is formulated for a different use.
Eligibility for Wegovy typically depends on your body mass index (BMI).
Wegovy, the only form of semaglutide approved for weight loss, is intended for use by those with either of the following:
- a BMI of 27 or greater and one weight-related health condition, such as high blood pressure
- a BMI of 30 or greater
Both Ozempic and Rybelsus are intended for use in people with type 2 diabetes. Ozempic has additional approval for reducing the risk of heart issues in people with either type 2 diabetes or heart disease. In some cases, it may also be prescribed to those with insulin resistance but not type 2 diabetes.
While some healthcare professionals may prescribe semaglutide for people who don’t meet the criteria above, those prescriptions will not be covered by insurance.
Once you have a prescription, you can buy semaglutide medications online and at your local pharmacy.
However, the FDA recommends obtaining semaglutide only with a prescription from:
- a licensed healthcare professional
- an outsourcing facility registered with the FDA
Many products marketed as semaglutide on online platforms may not actually contain the FDA-approved active ingredient. Instead, they may contain unregulated, untested forms such as semaglutide sodium and semaglutide acetate or non-FDA-approved
Buying such products from unlicensed or unregulated sources online can pose risks to your health. In the event that you choose to use an online pharmacy, the FDA’s
Keep in mind that even if you successfully fill your prescription online, you will likely need to undergo in-person laboratory tests or other assessments.
Recently, there has been a lot of hype about semaglutide for weight loss on social media platforms such as TikTok. As a result of this attention, there have been shortages of the drug in countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia since 2022.
Many people are using the drug off-label to manage their weight, even if they don’t meet BMI-related criteria. This has made it more challenging for those who need the medication — including those with type 2 diabetes — to get it.
Healthcare professionals are working to ration the drug and find creative solutions to make it more readily available.
In Canada, new regulations limit the sale of semaglutide to citizens and permanent residents. Non-citizens and residents must be physically present at a pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions.
As of June 2023, Ozempic and Wegovy injections are still listed on the
The high price point of Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus has made these medications cost-prohibitive for many. In the United States, for instance, a recommended dose of a semaglutide medication such as Ozempic costs an average of
A recommended dose of Ozempic is 0.5–1 milligram (in the form of a pre-filled pen) once per week. On average,
These prices may continue to climb if shortages persist.
Health insurance companies may cover Ozempic and Rybelsus if you have type 2 diabetes. Wegovy injections may be covered by insurance if you have obesity or have overweight and at least one weight-related health condition.
If you have type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance and don’t have insurance, a patient assistance program such as NovoCare may be able to help you get Ozempic or Rybelsus at a lower price.
Medicare or Medicaid might cover semaglutide for type 2 diabetes but will not typically cover it for weight management.
If you’re interested, you may also be able to participate in a clinical trial for semaglutide medication. Searching terms such as “obesity” and “weight loss” combined with “semaglutide” at clinicaltrials.gov should give you the latest options in the United States.
If you’re interested in trying semaglutide, talk with a healthcare professional about whether it would be a good fit for your needs. Depending on your reason for taking it, insurance may cover some or all of the cost.
You can purchase semaglutide at local pharmacies or online, but the FDA recommends obtaining it only with a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional or a state-licensed pharmacy. While you may find semaglutide for sale online, these versions are unregulated and potentially harmful.