Navigating Ozempic and Weight Loss Drug Shortages

Increased Popularity and Shortages

Ozempic and other weight loss medications like Wegovy, Zepbound, and Mounjaro are more popular than ever. While the increased acceptance of these drugs is positive, it comes with a downside: shortages are making it difficult for patients who need them. In some countries, these medications are being rationed.

What to Do When Your Pharmacy Runs Out

If your pharmacy is out of your prescribed weight loss drug, you’re not out of luck.

Alternative Pharmacies and Locations

Dr. Mir Ali, MD, board-certified bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, suggests asking your pharmacist to locate the medication at another branch within their system. “An alternative would be a legitimate weight loss center that may be able to obtain the medication from other sources,” Dr. Ali notes.

Mail-Order and Independent Pharmacies

Dr. Katrina Mattingly, MD, chief medical officer of Options Medical Weight Loss, recommends considering mail-order pharmacies and independent neighborhood pharmacies. “Large commercial chain pharmacies typically carry prescription drugs at higher prices. Looking into a mail-order pharmacy or your neighborhood pharmacy truly is worth your time,” she says.

Compounding Pharmacies

Dr. Mattingly also suggests considering compounding pharmacies, which can combine drugs for specific needs. “Compounding pharmacies have the green light from the FDA to fill in the gap on some GLP-1 medications that are on the drug shortage list,” she says. Ensure the compounding pharmacy has proper certifications and ask for the certificate of analysis.

Avoid Rationing Medication

Dangers of Lower Doses

Rationing your medication by taking smaller doses is not recommended. “Lower doses may not be as effective for many patients,” Dr. Ali advises. “The medication is designed to start at a low dose and increase every four weeks to minimize side effects.”

Risks of Sharing Medication

Dr. Mattingly warns against sharing your medication with others, even if they are also short on their prescription. “Please do not share medication prescribed specifically for you with another person or share needles,” she cautions. Sharing needles can risk infections such as cellulitis, HIV, and hepatitis.

Missed Doses

Impact of Missing a Dose

If you miss a dose due to the shortage, don’t panic. “If patients are not able to take the drugs immediately, they should be OK for another seven to 10 days,” Dr. Mattingly says. Some weight loss injections can stay in your system for up to 80 days. However, prolonged gaps can affect your weight loss goals, so maintaining your diet and exercise regimen is crucial.

Regaining Weight

“Patients who stop the medication can see weight regain if they have not adopted significant dietary and lifestyle changes,” Dr. Ali explains. If you stop the medication for a while, you may need to restart at a lower dose to avoid side effects.

Switching Between Medications

Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro

Dr. Mattingly explains that while some weight loss prescriptions have similar ingredients, switching between them isn’t always straightforward. “Ozempic and Wegovy are both semaglutide, with slight variations in maximum doses. Your physician may prescribe the other with proper dosing adjustment, but insurance may not cover the switch,” she says. Mounjaro, a mixture of two active medications, currently has no substitute.


Navigating the shortages of weight loss medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, Zepbound, and Mounjaro requires understanding your options and consulting with healthcare providers to ensure continuity in your treatment. By exploring alternative pharmacies, considering compounding pharmacies, and maintaining open communication with your doctor, you can manage your medication needs effectively.