Compounding pharmacies help fill demand amid weight loss drug shortages

If you're trying to get your hands on the weight loss injectable, you might be tempted to go to a compounding pharmacy. But what does that mean when it comes to the medication you're putting in your body?

Compounding pharmacies serve a vital role. It's tailor-made medication to serve a specific patient.

Maybe that means removing allergens or changing the dosage. When it comes to weight loss medication, the Food and Drug Administration has declared there is a shortage of brand name drugs, containing semiglutide which gives compounding pharmacies the authority to make their version.

"There are a lot of ways compounding pharmacies are very helpful," said Pharmacist Summer Abduqadi. "And I went ahead and am certified in compounding (as a) great way to help patients."

FOX 2 went to the compounding pharmacy at DMC Harper and Hutzel Hospital to learn more about the process.

First understand, the drugs that are created are slightly different than the name-brand counterparts.

"We don't know if it's 100 percent similar to the brand name," she said. "And we don't know what side effects it will give. That's the only thing.

"Of course when there is a shortage and a patient depends on it, you weigh the pros vs cons. And then you decide if the patient will continue even though there might be some side effects."

So at a compounding pharmacy, the active ingredient in the weight loss medication, semiglutide, is used. But there can be subtle differences.

"The final product is not exactly what the brand name is, so we don't know how effective it is," said Abduqadi. "And we don't know the side effects, so weigh the pros and the cons."

To protect yourself, be aware of any side effects and pharmacists say make sure you are following the advice of your doctor or provider and going to a regulated, safe compounding pharmacy.

"Compound pharmacies are regulated by the state, not by the FDA," she said.

You want to make sure you are getting your prescriptions from your provider, from your doctors, and that they are recommending the right place to go to.

Also, be careful about online offers of these medications and on social media. You want to make sure that any place you get your medication from is legit.