New York News
When she prescribes the popular weight-loss drug Wegovy, Dr. Angela Fitch sends patients on a quest she likens to “The Hunger Games.”
They will have to call drugstores over several days to find one with the properly sized first dose. Then they’ll do that again for their second dose, and probably the third. And that’s only if the patient has insurance or the means to afford a drug that can cost more than $1,300 a month.
“This is not for the weak-willed,” said Fitch, who is president of the Obesity Medicine Association and also consults for drugmakers.
Supply problems and insurance complications have made it difficult for people to start — and stay on — Wegovy and similar medications that are transforming obesity treatment, according to doctors and patients around the country. They say getting the high-demand, injectable drugs requires persistence and a fair amount of luck.
People starting on Wegovy have to take injections of gradually increasing strength before they reach the so-called maintenance dose that they stay on.
The drug’s maker, Novo Nordisk, says that demand has forced it to restrict the supply of those smaller, initial doses in the U.S. The company also is warning those taking another weight-loss drug, Saxenda, to expect difficulty filling prescriptions “for the remainder of 2023 and beyond.”
Another drugmaker, Eli Lilly, has said it expects tight supplies until year’s end for its diabetes treatment Mounjaro, which also is prescribed for weight loss.
Finding Wegovy can become a part-time job for patients, said Dr. Diana Thiara, medical director of the weight management clinic at the University of California, San Francisco.
Thiara said some wind up dri