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Ozempic & Wegovy: Doctor says off-brand weight loss drugs can be dangerous

The FDA warns consumers not to use off-brand versions of Ozempic and Wegovy.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The FDA urges consumers to steer clear of off-brand versions of the popular weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.

Dr. Jessica Bartfield works at the Weight Management Center at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. She said the high cost and short supply of these drugs have caused many people to turn to compounding pharmacies.

“The problem is when drugs are compounded, certain ingredients may be added, the medication can be diluted, they're not using the base medication that has been studied and FDA approved for safety and efficacy,” Dr. Bartfield said.

Semaglutide is an active ingredient in both Ozempic and Wegovy. The FDA warns that compounded versions of Semaglutide, often sold online, have not been approved for use in people.

“When potential ingredients may be added, or it changes kind of the form it was studied for safety, we don't know the safety risk,” Dr. Bartfield said. “Particularly, when patients are on other medications, you have a risk of just unknown side effects, or you have a risk of interactions with other medications that you should be taking.”

As of May, Ozempic and Wegovy remain on the FDA's list of drug shortages. If a patient is struggling to access these drugs, Dr. Bartfield recommends they speak with their doctor to find a safe alternative until supply is no longer scarce.  


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