NEW ORLEANS — There are two popular drugs used for diabetes in some patients and medical weight loss in others, but you may find that your pharmacy is out of stock.
So, there are alternatives that can help you stay on track with your new year's health resolution.
If you have type II diabetes and take the prescription, Ozempic, or you're using the modified higher dose version called Wegovy for medical weight loss, most likely you're having a hard time finding them at your pharmacy.
“We're having difficulty getting the Ozempic. It's back-ordered. We order them on a daily basis. Sometimes they show up, sometimes they don't. We're not even stocking Wegovy, because no insurance company will cover it,” Al Spitale, Pharmacist at Majoria Drug Store in Metairie said.
At Majoria, the refrigerator would normally have a dozen or more boxes ready for patients. Now there are just three already promised to patients who have been waiting.
“Some patients have coverage for Wegovy. The problem is that we don't have the doses that are readily available,” Dr. Buddy Leithead said.
The drug name for both is Semaglutide. Bariatric surgeon Dr. Buddy Leithead, of the Surgical Specialists of Louisiana, says the medical community is hearing from suppliers that the supply should be increasing soon in this new year, but nothing yet. In the meantime, you can talk to your doctor about prescription alternatives.
“And that could be either changing medications to a different form of weight loss medicine, or it could be changing to something their insurance would cover, but would change the way they take it. So, the frequency,” Dr. Leithead explained.
That could mean talking to your primary care doctor about Mounjaro for diabetics, or for medical weight loss, Saxenda, but unlike Wegovy, which is a once-a-week injection, this one is daily.
Or there are some compounding pharmacies that make their own Semaglutide.
Some even add a vitamin to cut down on the nausea side effect. And if your insurance won't cover it, their out-of-pocket prices are several hundred dollars cheaper.
We have asked two of the biggest medical insurance companies in the state, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and Ochsner, if their insurance plans will cover the two drugs in the coming year.
Blue Cross Louisiana sent a statement, with an added note that Ozempic is not FDA-approved as a weight-loss drug.
"Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana considers coverage for a particular medication class based on its FDA-approved label.
That means coverage may be subject to the customary prior authorization process that often includes medical policy review by clinical physicians and pharmacists.
Our medical policies are posted on our website at www.bcbsla.com/medicalpolicies."
There are two pharmacies that we know compound Semaglutide and B-12.
Galleria Medical Pharmacy's number is (504) 267-9876.
Tailor Made Pharmacy’s number is (859) 887-0013.
Check with other compounding pharmacies in the area to see if they compound Semaglutide.
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