“Love this product!!” reads a review for the hormone semaglutide on the website for Accelerate Labs. “It works well for what it is,” reads another on Unewlife, a company that claims on its “About Us” page that it “make[s] no claims to the efficacy of any treatments, procedures or supplements’’ and advises its products are “not for human consumption.” Of course, that’s exactly what these reviewers are doing: consuming mixed-at-home semaglutide, the working ingredient in fad weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.
DailyMail.com published a piece Friday morning digging into the DIY weight loss craze that has people buying raw semaglutide from chemical manufacturing websites, mixing it at home with bacteriostatic water, and injecting it into their abdomen. The results? A lot of apprehensive medical professionals. And sure, yes, weight loss—but those results are at the risk of seriously harming yourself.
Ozempic and Wegovy have skyrocked in popularity over the past year. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Mindy Kaling have been rumored to use the Type 2 diabetes drug to slim down, even hosting parties like the Botox balls of yore. Elon Musk even admitted to using Ozempic, tweeting that it “appears to be effective in appetite control with minor side effects.” (I wouldn’t mind if, in his case, the drug went awry and caused him to shut the fuck up for a few weeks.)
Dr. Shauna Levy, who is a member of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, told DailyMail.com that “making the medication at home is ‘incredibly unsafe on so many levels’ and puts people at risk of side effects, unsafe ingredients and overdosing.” Contamination, as you might imagine, is also a huge risk factor when you’re mixing medications at your kitchen table and not, say, a pharmaceutical lab. There’s a whole Breaking Bad episode about this, y’all.
So why are folks buying raw semaglutide? Well, without insurance, Ozempic costs around $967 for a 4mg pen, whereas Accelerate Labs is selling 5mg of semaglutide for $180. People desperate for this miracle pound-shedding peptide are hungry, pun intended, for that kind of deal. So hungry that they’re willing to overlook the real dangers of DIY medicine.
Now, raw semaglutide is starting to face the same sort of supply shortages Ozempic and Wegovy have had over the last few months. This shortage has been life-threateningly difficult for patients with Type 2 diabetes who need the medication to regulate their blood sugar levels. A couple of the websites DailyMail.com browsed that sell raw semaglutide have completely sold out.
While the retail websites assert that their products are strictly for lab and research use, DailyMail.com noted that at least one website, Accelerate Labs, linked to a video on how to mix injectable semaglutide at home. Novo Nordisk, the drugmaker that developed semaglutide and had it approved by the FDA in 2017, does not sell it to any other manufacturers, meaning the raw semaglutide on these websites is not FDA-approved and could easily be mixed under substandard practices. “We want consumers and healthcare providers to know and be very clear that Novo Nordisk does not sell Wegovy (or its active ingredient, semaglutide) for the purposes of compounding with other products,” Novo Nordisk’s website states. “We have not conducted studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Wegovy when compounded with other ingredients.”
Despite that clear warning from semaglutide’s approved manufacturer, a search on Reddit shows a number of threads advising people to get their semaglutide compounded at compounding pharmacies. Since compounding pharmacies are legally not allowed to make or sell you medications that are commercially available elsewhere, they’re mixing the active ingredient peptide with ingredients like “L-carnitine, a fat-mobilizing amino acid.” STAT reported earlier this week that, “the compounds that they produce don’t have to be approved by the regulator, as typical marketed drugs have to be.”
Is that advised? I mean, I like to think that compounding pharmacies aren’t willing to put anyone’s health at risk just to make a buck on this wildly popular drug. But it does seem like patients and the medical community are cutting a lot of corners to hop onto the bandwagon. Between every other TikTok displaying a patient’s Ozempic journey is a doctor encouraging patients to get on the drug. There’s a lot of money to be made. These manufacturing websites are banking on that being the case, too.
There are a lot of frightening levels to this whole Ozempic craze. “I just took semaglutide from peptide science and freaking out: having a panick [sic] attack. Afraid I mixed wrong . Fml,’’ one Reddit user wrote in a thread for DIY’ers. Not only are people who need the drug for diabetes not able to easily access it, people are relying on disreputable sources and methods for consuming it. And for what? As TikTok and Reddit have shown me, so many users of both the generic and at-home DIY drugs are trying to slim down from a size 12 to a size 8. I’m only 32 years old, but I’ve seen enough miracle weight loss drugs dissolve into legal and medical scandals in my lifetime to feel apprehensive about this latest go-round.
The Reddit user who was afraid they had mixed their at-home semaglutide incorrectly, luckily updated the thread a few hours later. “Everything worked out, I was just scared,” they wrote. Yeah, me too.