Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Who is making 'generic' semaglutide?

Via the New York magazine publication "The Cut", this feature story on the diabetes drug Ozempic, and the folks who are getting non-Novo Nordisk API for weight loss usage(emphasis mine): 
...To get hers, Allison calls up a Los Angeles–based provider she has never seen or met, sends over $625, and is shipped a monthly supply. What she calls Ozempic is not the brand-name product pre-packaged in a sky-blue injector pen by Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company that makes and markets the drug. 

She receives generic semaglutide, the active ingredient in the medication, and has to mix and prepare it for injection herself, which — since semaglutide is under patent by Novo Nordisk until 2032 in the U.S. — suggests her meds are likely coming from a compounding pharmacy or a vendor selling research-grade ingredients. The lower price is also a tell: Ozempic retails for about $900 a month if your insurance doesn’t cover it.

Here's a plastic surgery office talking about this material coming from a compounding pharmacy. It seems weird to me that someone is selling semaglutide API into the United States, and that Novo Nordisk lawyers haven't cottoned to this, but I imagine the demand for semaglutide is so high that this sort of off-label usage cannot be controlled.* It's a peptide drug, so that increases the synthetic challenge quite a bit. Is an API manufacturer really selling Novo API out the back door? I can't imagine that either - so who is doing this?

*I don't blame Novo Nordisk for being at wits' end with this, but with any lifestyle-type drug, it seems to me that a wise pharmaceutical company would figure out how exactly to prevent undesired usage in otder to protect their brand. It would be interesting to know what Pfizer did to attempt to prevent generic Vi/a/gra from entering the United States during their time of patent exclusivity.


  1. I just wonder what the long term effects will be on healthy adults without type 2 diabetes. Shortcutting to weight loss might feel great now, but it might not feel so great 5 years from now.

    1. A la Cory Doctorow's "Makers." Good book.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20