Why med spa may profit from people seeking an Ozempic prescription but are turned down by their doctor

Demand for blockbuster weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy has skyrocketed as more people want them to help them lose weight.

But what happens when people who want to lose weight but don’t meet the medication’s criteria – a body mass index greater than 30 or diabetes – seek a prescription but are turned down by their doctor?

They turn to medical spas and telehealth services, where you can get a prescription for semaglutide shots — the active ingredient in both medications — without ever seeing a doctor in person.

A med spa is considered a middle ground between a day spa and an aesthetic medical center.

Med spas offer a combination of medical and aesthetic procedures such as hair restoration, Botox, microneedling and fillers.

Medical spa laws vary by state, but some must be run by a licensed physician while others may be run by non-doctors, but the majority of a medical spa’s staff consists of physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and estheticians who provide various procedures .

Dr. Jason Fung, the doctor who invented the intermittent fasting diet, told DailyMail.com that the ease with which medical spas can distribute semaglutide is “ripe for abuse.”

“You could go anywhere — any medical spa — and get it,” he said.

Med spas offer special offers to entice patients to purchase weight loss medications at their facilities

Med spas offer special offers to entice patients to purchase weight loss medications at their facilities

Telemedicine companies often mail the semaglutide to patients' homes, while medical spas typically administer the shots to patients

Telemedicine companies often mail the semaglutide to patients’ homes, while medical spas typically administer the shots to patients

Ozempic is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat type 2 diabetes, but is prescribed off-label for weight loss. While Wegovy, which was also originally approved for diabetes, was also approved for weight loss.

Novo Nordisk, which makes both weight-loss drugs, has said it does not sell semaglutide for distribution to medical spas and has sued several weight-loss and wellness clinics in the U.S. for allegedly selling knockoffs of its drugs.

However, because semaglutide is currently on the FDA’s drug shortage list, it may be increased by pharmacies associated with medical spas.

Compounding is the process of mixing and combining ingredients to create a specific medication that a person needs. It is a legal way for patients to obtain medications that meet their needs when a particular brand is out of stock.

But in May, the FDA warned some pharmacies that they were using unapproved forms of semaglutide or compounding it incorrectly.

Telehealth companies, medical services that are provided remotely, are also offering their customers a way to easily get the drugs in their hands, sending the semaglutide by mail to people’s homes so they can inject the drugs themselves.

If you don’t want to inject yourself, you can take the course through a medical spa where a doctor will administer the shots for you.

Dr. Fung said, “A friend of mine went to Texas and met up with her friends. Her friends are trying to lose three pounds and are taking Ozempic.”

“And she said, ‘How did you get into Ozempic?’ and (her friend said), ‘Oh, I was just at the medical spa and they gave it to me.’

“They didn’t see a doctor, nobody knew what her situation was, nobody examined her before giving her the medication.”

Dr. Fung added: “There’s a clinic here in Toronto.” Doctors have to see 70 patients a day, and they basically come in, get the prescription for Ozempic and walk out. That’s all.

“They built the system; They made a lot of money. Unfortunately they are rewarded with a lot of money because the man who runs it is now very prominent and has made a lot of money. He has a lot of influence. He wrote essays about it.

“But when you look at what he’s actually doing, he’s just handing the stuff out to everyone without a second plan. “It’s ripe for abuse.”

A medical spa in New Mexico offers a course of semaglutide for $350 the first month and $500 in subsequent months.

This also includes the weekly sEmaglutide injection and a “monthly Lipo-Mino mix injection,” a fat-burning shot that promises to break down fat in the liver.

The Med Spa website states: “Stop by weekly during business hours and your weight measurement and injection will take no longer than 15 minutes.’

Another clinic advertises it for $850 and another advertises a free sale for $1,800.

At a doctor’s office, Ozempic costs about $900 for a month’s supply, but some or all of the cost is covered by health insurance companies.

A TikTok video from a medical spa in Utah shows employees miming a song with the lyrics, “Call the pharmacy, my doctor won’t fill out the script for me.”

In an American Med Spa Association (AmSpa) blog entry When considering who can give semaglutide injections, it is recommended that the prescriber collect blood tests and other information (e.g., pre-existing medical conditions) about the person who wants to take the medication to ensure that they are an appropriate candidate.

However, in most states this is possible via video or phone call, meaning doctors cannot measure the patient’s weight or vitals in person, which could lead to someone lying to get the medication.

AmSpa noted that tests, measurements or observations performed remotely must be “reasonably reproduced” compared to when performed in person.

The blog states: “For weight loss treatments, the patient may express a strong desire to begin treatment with semaglutide to lose weight, and this initially appears to be a viable option.” But at this point, it is just a theory or conjecture – not enough to base professional judgment on.

“However, with a review of the medical history, the study of the current health status and the search for indications and contraindications, there is a concrete basis to determine the patient’s condition and determine whether this semaglutide treatment can help him.” In this way can the doctor discusses the risks of the treatment with the patient and obtains their consent.”

In June 2023, Novo Nordisk filed federal lawsuits against five weight loss and wellness clinics in Texas, Florida, New York and Tennessee for allegedly selling knockoffs of its medications.

It asked the courts to stop the spas and clinics from claiming that their drugs contained the main ingredients of Ozempic, Rybelsus and Wegovy.

The drugmaker also wanted federal judges to require spas and clinics to make clear that their products are not affiliated with Novo Nordisk and are not approved by the FDA.

It sued Champion Health and Wellness Clinics, which operates in Houston; Effinger Health’s Nuvida RX Weight Loss Clinic in Tallahassee; Ekzotika’s Cosmetic Laser Professionals Med Spa in Miami; Flawless Image Medical Aesthetics based in East Syracuse, NY and Pro Health Investments in Memphis, Tennessee.

Champion Health and Wellness’ website introduces the semaglutide program, which is an “in-office or virtual consultation program” that can be completed entirely from home.

“In two months, you could lose up to 25 pounds. In four months, you could lose up to 50 pounds or more!” it says on the website.

It also notes that patients can repeat the program as many times as they wish and that there are “no special diets” and “no difficult workouts.”

“Just inject once a week and watch your weight go down.”

Despite their weight loss benefits, Wegovy and Ozempic have a growing list of serious products Side effects including depression, suicidal thoughts, nausea and vomiting.

Recently, a study found that people who take the weight loss drugs have a higher risk of pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction and stomach paralysis.

Not only have people lost the joy of eating, but they have also “no longer enjoyed” activities they once enjoyed, such as drinking alcohol and gambling, which has allowed some to give up long-standing habits.

The long-term effects of the drugs are still being studied because the drugs are relatively new.

And new research shows that patients who stop taking the injectables are prone to regaining lost weight and may need to take the medication for a longer period of time.