What is semaglutide salt?

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Ammy Man, PharmD 

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Ammy Man, PharmD 

last updated: Oct 27, 2023

2 min read

There has been a lot of buzz around semaglutide salts, what they are used for, and whether they can be viable alternatives to brand-name medications like Ozempic and Wegovy during a drug shortage. We spoke with Ammy Man, a senior pharmacist, about semaglutide salt, what it is, and what it can be used for.

Ozempic Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Wegovy Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

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What is semaglutide salt and what is it used for?

Semaglutide, the active ingredient in brand name drugs Wegovy and Ozempic, is a peptide drug that mimics a naturally occurring hormone in our bodies called GLP-1. It works by binding to receptors in our bodies, subsequently reducing appetite and slowing the movement of food through our digestive systems, keeping us feeling full for longer. 

While researchers have evaluated the effectiveness of the base form of semaglutide that’s present in the commercially available medications from manufacturer Novo Nordisk, the salt forms (which are slightly different) have never been tested in large clinical studies. 

In general, salt forms of medications are frequently used for many different purposes. Altered forms can change things like how the medication affects a person or how long it stays in the bloodstream. In the case of semaglutide, these effects have never been evaluated, however. 

Since certain dosages of brand name options are on the FDA’s drug shortage list, despite the fact that the manufacturer still holds the exclusive patent rights to the drug, compounding pharmacies have begun to produce compounded semaglutide. However, the FDA warns that pharmacies that prepare semaglutide using a salt form of the drug (either semaglutide sodium or semaglutide acetate) are not meeting the FDA’s requirements for drug compounding because they are using a different active pharmaceutical ingredient than the original medication.

Is semaglutide salt a safe alternative to Wegovy or Ozempic?

The bottom line is that we simply do not know at this time whether semaglutide salts are safe or effective and for that reason, the FDA has warned that they are “not aware of any basis for compounding using the salt forms that would meet the FD&C requirements for types of active ingredients that can be compounded.”

DISCLAIMER

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

October 27, 2023

Written by

Ammy Man

Fact checked by

Yael Cooperman, MD


About the medical reviewer

Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.

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