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An Update and a Caution on Weight Loss Drugs for Coloradans

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved use of the weight-loss drug Wegovy for overweight people with heart disease. Medicare Part D will cover the drug if it is prescribed by a doctor for cardiovascular disease. Medicare also covers the weight-loss drug Ozempic when it is used to treat diabetes. (Medicare by law does not cover drugs prescribed only for weight gain or loss in the absence of other disease factors.) As supplies struggle to keep pace with rapidly growing demand for weight-loss drugs (including also Mounjaro and Zepbound), Colorado’s regional medical system UCHealth (UCH) has issued a caution to those who might seek out alternative drugs, warning people not to use compounded versions of medications. Safety and sterility of such meds are key concerns. “Avoid using substitute weight-loss medications from compounding pharmacies or medical spas,” is UCH’s message. “Patients should also be aware that some unscrupulous online sellers are marketing counterfeit weight-loss drugs. Before taking any medication, always speak with your medical provider and obtain medications through trusted, licensed pharmacies.” UCH noted that FDA officials have received reports of adverse reactions to weight-loss drugs obtained from questionable sources. Another red flag UCH points to is being offered a compounded drug at a price that seems too good to be true. Amy Gutierrez, vice president of pharmacy services for UCH, said if a compounded medication is offered at $350 when the FDA-approved med retails for $1,000 or more, the compounded agent may not contain the same active ingredients as the FDA-approved product, and may pose other safety concerns.

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