• Culture
  • by Skippack Pharmacy
  • March 28, 2024
  • 721
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The introduction of novel weight loss medications, semaglutide and tirzepatide, have emerged as potent therapies offering hope to individuals striving to achieve healthier lifestyles. However, continued shortages of these drugs have raised concerns among patients and healthcare providers alike. In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons behind the semaglutide and tirzepatide shortage and how compounded formulations of these medications can offer a promising avenue for weight loss.

Understanding the Barrier to Receiving Weight Loss Injectables 

Our community members who are prescribed weight loss injectables containing the active ingredients semaglutide and tirzepatide have reported difficulties with consistently receiving their prescription. The reason for this can be attributed to several factors:

  • Increased Demand: Medications containing semaglutide and tirzepatide are currently listed on the FDA shortage list. This is due to the growing awareness of the effectiveness of these drugs for weight loss which is seen in the media. 
  • Supply Chain Disruptions: Challenges in the global supply chain, exacerbated by factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturing issues, and regulatory issues have disrupted the production and distribution of these medications.
  • Lack of Insurance Coverage for Obesity: When using medications for obesity, some insurance plans require untimely prior authorizations or documented step therapies before covering semaglutide or tirzepatide. Other insurance plans may outright refuse to cover any injectable weight loss medications. When insurance doesn’t cover commercial products containing semaglutide or tirzepatide, the patient is left paying between $900 to $1,350 for a monthly supply which is often not affordable. 

Impact on Weight Loss Efforts

The shortage of weight loss injectables presents significant challenges for individuals striving to manage their weight:

  • Disrupted Treatment Plans: Patients relying on semaglutide or tirzepatide for weight management may face interruptions or delays in their treatment, potentially hindering their progress towards achieving weight loss goals.
  • Limited Treatment Options: Healthcare providers are tasked with exploring alternative medications or treatment modalities to support patients in their weight loss journey which may not be as effective.
  • Emotional and Psychological Impact: For individuals struggling with obesity, the uncertainty surrounding medication availability can exacerbate feelings of frustration, anxiety, and discouragement, impacting their overall well-being.

Exploring Compounded Semaglutide and Tirzepatide Solutions 

During a drug shortage, pharmacies are allowed to offer compounded medications which refer to customized formulations of a drug that are prepared by a certified compounding pharmacy. The compounded medication MUST contain the same active ingredient as the commercial product. The compounded versions of semaglutide and tirzepatide differ from the commercial products in several ways: 

  • Availability: Compounded semaglutide and tirzepatide come directly from a compounding pharmacy which is created based on a specific patient prescription. This is currently a reliable source of weight loss therapy for individuals unable to access commercially available drugs.
  • Cost: Compounded medications are usually not covered by insurance. The cost of compounded semaglutide and tirzepatide can vary based on the specific formulation, strength, and quantity prescribed. Since compounded therapies come directly from a pharmacy, their out-of-pocket cost is almost always less than the commercial medication which comes from big pharmaceutical companies. 
  • FDA Approval: The FDA branded medications containing semaglutide and tirzepatide are approved for chronic weight management, while compounded formulations are not FDA-approved for this specific use. This is simply because no compounded medication can be FDA-approved due to its customized nature. A compounding pharmacy is required to follow strict regulations and standards to ensure that these medications are safe and efficacious for their patients. 

Conclusion

The shortage of semaglutide and tirzepatide underscores the need for innovative solutions to ensure continued access to effective weight management therapies. Compounded formulations of these medications offer a promising avenue for individuals impacted by the shortage, providing personalized, accessible, and potentially cost-effective options for achieving weight loss goals. By leveraging compounded medications and fostering collaboration between patients, providers, and pharmacies we can navigate the challenges posed by the drug shortage and empower individuals to embark on successful weight loss journeys.

Skippack Pharmacy is proud to offer high-quality, compounded semaglutide and tirzepatide to our patients! Please visit our Weight Loss page to learn more.

For more information, please read our prior blog post.

Additonal Sources 

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