Americans desperate for the hot weight-loss drug Ozempic are turning to Canada and Mexico because they can’t afford it at home

  • Certain individuals in the United States have initiated the purchase of Ozempic from Canada and Mexico at reduced costs.
  • Mounjaro performed wonders for Vicki Delp.

    The 63-year-old woman from outside Indianapolis has always struggled with her weight. She has tried countless fad diets and worked with a nutritionist. None of the phentermine pills she took helped much.

    Lilly and Eli, the drug manufacturer, provided a coupon that allowed her to purchase the new diabetes medication, Mounjaro, for just $25. However, her insurance did not cover it. Dr. Delp then prescribed the medication, which can help people lose 15 to 20% of their weight.

    Vicki Delp.

    While on Mount Mounjaro, Delp experienced weight loss and a decrease in her blood pressure.

    “I will emerge victorious in this conflict,” she declared. “I genuinely sense an enhanced cognitive acuity. I have a heightened sense of self-assurance. It transcends mere shedding of pounds.”

    Delp gazed towards the northern direction, resolved to continue taking the medication despite facing a monthly bill of $1,000. However, she was unable to avail the coupon anymore after a couple of months.

    They reached her doorstep within a week while being on ice. Equipped with a prescription, she ordered two injection pens, each costing a little over $300, which would last for two months. CanShipMeds.Com, one of the numerous websites she discovered, claims that Ozempic, a comparable medication, can be shipped from Canada at a reduced price.

    The demand for weight loss injections known as GLP-1 agonists has surged in the past year, turning Ozempic into a household name. Its use has been mocked on “Saturday Night Live” and served as a punchline at the Oscars. Influencers and celebrities have touted the ads for prescribing startups that flood social media with shots of drugs.

    Canada or Mexico has now become a popular way for Americans to obtain affordable medical procedures and low-cost prescriptions for weight-loss drugs. However, Delp is hardly the only American searching across the border in Mexico or Canada for weight-loss drugs. Social media sites like TikTok and Reddit are flooded with advice on how to buy these drugs abroad.

    The coverage for health plans doesn’t include many expensive drugs. Approximately 70% of Americans are either obese or overweight. The drugs are potentially helpful and effective for a significant portion of the US population.

    Dr. Dan Azagury, the medical director of Stanford Lifestyle and Weight Management Clinic.

    Although obesity disproportionately affects disease, many people can only afford treatments if they are wealthy. The failure of the US healthcare system underscores the need to ensure that Americans can afford effective treatments. However, buying medicines outside of the US can be risky, as people may be willing to bring them home.

    Dr. Dan Azagury, the medical director of Stanford Lifestyle and Weight Management Clinic, expressed his astonishment at the ongoing stigma surrounding the treatment of obesity. He finds it astonishing that patients have to go through unnecessary obstacles to receive treatment for a condition they are already experiencing. According to him, an increasing number of his patients resort to obtaining their prescriptions from international pharmacies when their insurance providers refuse to cover the costs.

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    I’m not surprised that creative people have to get around prohibitive insurance costs if it doesn’t cover any portion of it.

    In 2013, the American Medical Association solely acknowledged obesity as a disease. Not a medical diagnosis, but rather a personal shortcoming, obesity has been traditionally perceived as the underlying issue.

    Dr. Angela Fitch, the president of the Obesity Medicine Association.

    There are fewer than 20 states that provide Medicaid programs. Despite this change, the federal Medicare program provides health coverage for people older than 65, although it does not cover weight-loss drugs. Today, health insurers often categorize weight-loss medications as cosmetic treatments, and only about one-fifth of employers estimate that they cover these new weight-loss drugs.

    Dr. Angela Fitch, the Chief Medical Officer of Knownwell, also offers services in metabolic health and primary care. She stated that treatments for diseases like cancer or diabetes should also cover obesity, as it is considered a disease by the President of the Obesity Medicine Association, Dr. Angela Fitch.

    It should be something that everybody has access to, not just a few lucky individuals who have an employer that decides to add coverage to it.

    Individuals are seeking Canada and Mexico as more affordable alternatives for Ozempic.

    Until there is an improvement in insurance coverage, individuals will seek options overseas in order to afford the medications for weight loss.

    The spokesperson stated that Insider could not find data encompassing the entirety of Canada. The spokesperson for British Columbia’s Ministry of Health revealed that the percentage of prescriptions filled for all drugs by US citizens is 22 times lower than that of Canada. Specifically, out of the 30,000 prescriptions for semaglutide, also known as Ozempic, filled monthly across the province in 2022, 9% were for US citizens.

    The Health Ministry of BC published a story after it said plans are in place to limit the sale of Ozempic to non-Canadians in areas where potential drug shortages exist. The move follows a surge in Americans being dispensed Ozempic, with 15,798 prescriptions filled for it in January and February, a 15% increase, it said.

    Gina of California bought Ozempic in Mexico and Canada.

    Another approach is to cross the border into Mexico.

    Gina has taken both routes in her life. She was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes insulin resistance and makes her feel hungry all the time. Insider, the tech company she works for in California, told her that she has always been overweight.

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    In order to test it, she purchased a single Ozempic pen in the United States since she does not have diabetes. Gina assumed that insurance would not include the medication based on her health insurance plan documents. Gina’s endocrinologist prescribed Ozempic to aid in her weight loss efforts.

    Said she “astronomical,” home at cost the but it taking keep to wanted she knew and eating after full felt finally she.

    In September, Gina flew from San Lucas Cabo to Mexico and brought back five pens of Ozempic from Costco pharmacy. She did not require a prescription for each pen, and they cost about $250.

    She felt confident performing the task. “The reality is that I’m being closely monitored by a doctor. I am conscious of the dosage I’ve been prescribed,” she declared.

    Up until now, Gina has successfully shed 25 pounds. After discovering BuyCanadianInsulin.Com on Reddit, she placed an order for two pens at a price of $285 per pen, along with an additional shipping fee of $40 when she required more.

    The duration of one pen of Ozempic, a medication, typically depends on how much of the drug a person takes. In a month, different doses of the medication can be dispensed using pens.

    Several telehealth companies in the United States are assisting patients in obtaining prescriptions overseas.

    Seeking guidance on obtaining Ozempic prescriptions from overseas, individuals often turn to Reddit forums for assistance. Companies such as Alpha Hello and Health Push, which provide telehealth services in the United States, are commonly recommended by users on the platform.

    Said that there are ways around the law, but it is illegal for US companies to facilitate drug transactions outside of the US supply chain. Baney also mentioned that online pharmacies specializing in safe transactions are against illegal online pharmacies. Libby Baney, a senior advisor for the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, is an attorney specializing in online pharmacies at the law firm Drinker Faegre.

    Amber Bahr.

    Amber Bahr, a 42-year-old patient from Appleton, Wisconsin, stated that a nurse practitioner at Alpha Hello helped her get a prescription for Ozempic, which her primary-care doctor refused to prescribe off-label. She filled the prescription at a Canadian pharmacy to lose weight.

    Bahr, who is prediabetic and has several other health conditions, initially hesitated to use a weight-loss drug because she didn’t want to be seen as “taking the easy way out.” She was also worried about the potential side effects of the medication, so she decided to work with a nutritionist and join Weight Watchers instead.

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    Bahr mentioned that she pays $49 per month to consult her healthcare provider at Hello Alpha for the prescription. PolarBearMeds.Com states that they deliver Ozempic from an authorized Canadian pharmacy for approximately $340 along with a $30 shipping charge. According to Bahr, her employer-sponsored health insurance does not include coverage for medications that aid in weight loss.

    She has improved her blood sugar level and has fewer muscle aches because she has lost 25 pounds in just a few months. However, she must pay for other services before her insurance kicks in or go towards her deductible, and it is still expensive. It costs her less than it would in the US.

    Alpha Hello said in an emailed statement that the company works with mail-order pharmacies in the US, so patients can request prescriptions to be sent to a pharmacy of their choice. The company treats more than 100 medical conditions, including weight loss, with licensed healthcare providers.

    Purchasing medications outside of the United States can pose a potential danger.

    Going outside the US for medical care or medication can be risky. An extreme example of this is when four US citizens were kidnapped and two of them were killed when they visited the Mexican city of Matamoros for a medical procedure earlier this month.

    According to Baney, procuring medications from unlicensed internet pharmacies can also pose risks. She suggested obtaining them from alternative sources, as websites claiming to ship medicines from Canada might not be genuine. Additionally, she mentioned the possibility of receiving counterfeit products without any means of seeking legal action in case of harm.

    Baney stated, “It is incredibly easy to deceive and distribute counterfeit drugs on the internet because there is no reliable way for an American patient to distinguish between obtaining a counterfeit product or a genuine one.”

    In the majority of instances, it is unlawful to utilize personal means for the importation of drugs, however, the US Food and Drug Administration technically overlooks this.

    Some believe the dangers are justified.

    Delp, from Indiana, said she felt enough diligence to choose a safe pharmacy and avoid the fate of both her parents, who underwent bypass surgery in hopes of avoiding that battle. The medication has made it much easier for her to manage her weight, and she’s lost 55 pounds. She’s hoping to get a chance to slim down with a fake medication from Canada called Ozempic.

    Delp stated, “It is definitely worth the risk of not being regulated by the FDA to be able to keep off the weight by using these medications.”

    Do you want to share your experience with weight-loss medications such as Ozempic and Mounjaro? Contact the author at slivingston@insider.Com.

    The Ministry of Health in British Columbia stated that starting on March 29th, non-Canadian residents would be prohibited from filling prescriptions for Ozempic at pharmacies in the province. Please note that this story was initially published on March 20th.

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