Online Pharmacy Launches Cheaper Version of Ozempic

The company behind those viral erectile dysfunction ads is releasing its own version of Ozempic.

Hims & Hers Health, Inc., which sells generic pills for men and women that treat everything from ED and anxiety to hair loss and acne, announced this week that it will be selling compounded versions of semaglutide, the active ingredient in the diabetes injectable Ozempic and its weight loss sister drug Wegovy, at a fraction of the cost of Novo Nordisk's expensive name-brand drugs.

In the press release, Hims said that beyond offering injections of the glucagon-like peptide-1 agonist — which is believed to mimic the feeling of fullness in the stomach, though its exact mechanism is something of an open question — it will also offer "weight management oral medication kits, so that customers can truly personalize their weight loss experience." The service will cost between $79 and $199 per month.

"We’ve leveraged our size and scale to secure access to one of the highest-quality supplies of compounded GLP-1 injections available today," company CEO Andrew Dudum said in the statement. "We’re passing that access and value along to our customers, who deserve the highest standard of clinical safety and efficacy to meet their goals, and we're doing it in a safe, affordable way that others can’t deliver."

This scheme isn't unprecedented. As Ozempic, Wegovy, and other weight loss injectables have become popular to the point of scarcity, online compounding pharmacies have risen to the occasion to sell generic semaglutide direct to consumers at far lower costs than the name brands, which can run between $935 and $1,350 per month.

"We conducted extensive research for over a year into finding a quality supplier, putting rigorous standards in place for vetting, and we’re now partnering with a leading US manufacturer of generic and 503B compounded injectable medications, BPI Labs," the company's chief medical officer Pat Carroll told us in response to questions. "They are registered with the FDA as a 503B outsourcing facility, which is subject to state and federal oversight."

Compounding pharmacies can be controversial, as the American Pharmacists Association explains, because they can be exempt from Food and Drug Administration regulations so long as they comply with certain requirements that primarily deal with facility safety and sterility rather than the ingredients of the drugs they're making.

Because they're less regulated than conventional pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, however, there's no real way to determine the safety of the drugs compounding pharmacies produce as more and more horror stories about compounded semaglutide have been stacking up.

According  to the FDA, some compounders "may be using salt forms of semaglutide, including semaglutide sodium and semaglutide acetate."

"The salt forms are different active ingredients than is used the approved drugs, which contain the base form of semaglutide," the advisory explained. "The agency is not aware of any basis for compounding using the salt forms that would meet the [agency's] requirements for types of active ingredients that can be compounded."

"Our manufacturer only uses semaglutide base," Carroll told us in response to questions about the use of salt and acetate forms of semaglutide.

More on Ozempic: Novo Nordisk To Slash Prices On Buzzy Drugs Ozempic and Wegovy