December 4, 2023

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Ozempic (semaglutide) helps manage blood sugar in people with diabetes. While there is widespread interest in using this medication for weight loss, it does not have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for this use.

Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonists promote insulin production in the body.

This medication helps people feel full for longer by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties. It also helps stop the pancreas from producing glycogen when a person’s blood sugar levels are high.

GLP-1 receptors can also lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and total cholesterol levels. There is also evidence that this class of medication can help reduce body weight, with people losing, on average, 2.9 kilograms (kg) compared to a placebo.

The FDA has approved Ozempic for people with type 2 diabetes only.

However, healthcare professionals may prescribe this medication “off-label” for weight loss. Off-label use means that, while the drug may be effective, the FDA has not approved it specifically for the purpose a doctor has prescribed.

The FDA has approved another medication for weight loss called Wegovy (semaglutide). This drug contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic. People looking to purchase semaglutide for weight loss can consider using this medication instead.

People should not use Ozempic if they or their family have a history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2.

Ozempic is not a weight loss drug. However, a side effect of its mechanism of action can help people lose weight, as it may help people feel full for longer.

A 2022 study found that people lost 6.7 kg at 3 months and 12.3 kg at 6 months while using semaglutide. However, people with type 2 diabetes lost less weight than those without this condition. The drug was effective when using 1.7 milligrams (mg) and 2.4 mg weekly of semaglutide.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Best for a weight loss program: Ro

  • Eligibility: at the discretion of a healthcare professional
  • Accepts insurance: yes
  • Membership cost: $99 per month for the first month, $145 per month afterward

Ro offers Ozempic and Wegovy for weight loss. Through the platform, healthcare professionals prescribe whichever medication they believe is appropriate for each person’s goals and circumstances.

People must complete an online questionnaire discussing their motivation and health history. A healthcare professional will review this questionnaire and order metabolic lab tests. If the lab results indicate medication is appropriate, people can enroll in Ro’s Body Program.

The Body Program includes an insurance concierge to help navigate insurance claims, prescriptions for medication, access to a healthcare professional, and a personal health coach.

The Body Program costs $99 for the first month and $145 per month afterward. The cost of the Body Program does not include the cost of medication.

Best for unlimited access to care: K Health

  • Eligibility: people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Accepts insurance: no
  • Membership cost: $147 every 3 months

K Health offers a range of GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Saxenda. The company states that people may be eligible for Ozempic if they have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

People who use this service will receive a free call from one of K Health’s care concierges, who will discuss a person’s goal and, if appropriate, arrange an appointment with a healthcare professional. After conducting lab tests, doctors may prescribe the medication.

K Health states that a person’s doctor will adjust their care plan depending on their weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and other health markers.

K Health offers a membership for $147 every 3 months or roughly $49 per month. This membership gives people access to unlimited appointments with healthcare professionals, same-day visits and appointments, prescription management, and urgent care physicians.

Best for people with insurance: PlushCare

  • Eligibility: people with type 2 diabetes
  • Accepts insurance: yes
  • Membership price: $129 for an initial consultation, $99 for follow-ups

PlushCare offers Ozempic for people with type 2 diabetes who are finding it difficult to lose weight through diet and exercise alone.

People will need to book an online consultation with a doctor through the company’s platform. The doctor will discuss a person’s goals and likely order lab tests to ensure Ozempic is the right medication.

PlushCare states that the doctors on this platform may also provide diet and exercise plans and monitor a person’s weight loss progress.

Plushcare offers two membership plans: one for people with health insurance and another for people without. Each plan requires a flat fee of $14.99 per month.

People with insurance are only responsible for the copay for each visit, whereas people without insurance will need to pay $129 for their initial visit and $99 for every follow-up consultation.

The following table compares the services that offer Ozempic on insurance, cost, and more.

Healthcare professionals will ask a person about any medications, supplements, or other complementary healthcare products before prescribing Ozempic to reduce the risk of drug interactions. As Ozempic changes how fast the stomach empties, it may affect how oral medications work.

Taking Ozempic alongside insulin secretagogues or insulin can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Healthcare professionals may reduce the dose of one of the medications to increase safety.

It is also important not to share an Ozempic pen with another person. Sharing needles and other injectables increases the risk of bloodborne pathogens such as HIV.

People should inject Ozempic once per week, on the same day each week, at any time of day. They can inject the drug with or without an empty stomach.

The dosage changes over time:

  • 0.25 mg once per week for 4 weeks
  • 0.5 mg once per week for 4 weeks
  • 1 mg once per week for 4 weeks
  • 2 mg once per week

Healthcare professionals will only prescribe 1 mg of Ozempic or higher per week if a person’s blood sugar levels do not improve with a lower dose.

Ozempic cost will vary depending on a person’s insurance and where they purchase the drug. For example, Optum Perks states that Ozempic can start at around $915.

People may be able to receive insurance coverage for Ozempic. However, insurance companies are more likely to offer coverage if a person has type 2 diabetes.

Medicare Part D plans may provide coverage for this drug. People with Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage may receive partial coverage for Ozempic.

Ozempic offers a savings card. This card is only available to people with private or commercial insurance who receive a 1-, 2-, or 3-month supply of this drug. The company states that people can pay as little as $25 per prescription.

Currently, there is no generic version of Ozempic available to purchase.

Here we answer some common questions about this medication.

Will my doctor prescribe Ozempic for weight loss?

Healthcare professionals may prescribe Ozempic for weight loss, as semaglutide is effective in helping people lose weight.

However, the FDA has approved another drug, Wegovy, specifically for weight loss. This drug contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic.

Can I get Ozempic if I do not have diabetes?

Prescribing Ozempic for conditions other than diabetes is called “off-label” use. This is legal. However, Wegovy contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic and has FDA approval for weight loss.

Who qualifies for Ozempic for weight loss?

The FDA has not approved Ozempic for weight loss, so there are no eligibility criteria.

Healthcare professionals who prescribe Ozempic for off-label use are likely only to prescribe it if a person has overweight or obesity.

Ozempic is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that can help manage blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. While there is interest in using Ozempic for weight loss, Wegovy contains the same active ingredient and has FDA approval.

Ozempic is available from many pharmacies. Some insurance companies may provide coverage, although it is likelier if a person has type 2 diabetes.


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