Health & Wellness

With local urgent care clinics offering weight loss shots, here's what you need to know before taking them

NBC Universal, Inc.

You may consider an urgent care for treating a fever a or bad cough, but American Family Care is now offering semaglutide shots as well at its two suburban locations in Willowbrook and Naperville.

“It’s the generic of Ozempic, but it is compounded at different pharmacies,” said Dr. Rama Wahood, the medical director for American Family Care, as she held one of the vials of the popular weight loss drug.

Offered since May 2023, Wahood said 50 patients have started taking the weekly injections.

“First of all, you have to qualify for the medicine. We do extensive history, family history, personal history,” Wahood said.

The initial consultation costs $200 and blood work is also required before AFC will sign off on the semaglutide shots, which have grown in popularity nationwide.

“Especially with everything going on and people taking advantage of this medication, there is a very strict criteria for it. The criteria is a BMI (body mass index) of 30, which identifies as obesity, that’s the chronic condition, or a BMI of 27 with other chronic issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol,” Wahood said.

Approved by the FDA for chronic weight management, semaglutide works by reducing appetite, helping people feel full faster. Patients using the medication tend to eat less and lose weight.

“This is not a jumpstart medication. This is a long-term medication,” said Dr. Naomi Parrella, Medical Director, Center for Weight Loss & Lifestyle Medicine at RUSH University Medical Center.

Dr. Parrella says anyone taking one of these semaglutide medications, including Wegovy, Ozempic or other generic compounded medications, needs to be closely monitored by a medical professional.

”Does your heart rate go up too high while you're on this medication? Are you losing muscle? What's happening? Is there a lump growing in your throat? I would need to know that, right? Because then it means the medication is not right for you and it's actually creating problems,” Parrella said.

Parrella also listed potential side effects including digestive issues and the potential for an increased risk of depression.

“If somebody is planning to get pregnant, you cannot be on this medication for two months before a planned pregnancy. Now we know about half of pregnancies are unplanned. So you know we don't know the full consequences of that down the road,” Parrella said.

American Family Care uses a self-pay system and does not go through insurance for patients receiving the semaglutide shots. AFC offers up to a six month supply, which costs a minimum of $3,850, including the $200 feel for the initial consultation.

Health experts say it’s important to understand semaglutide is approved for weight loss when intended to work in conjunction with lifestyle changes, like a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity.

“The weight can certainly come back if you don't change your lifestyle, if you don't change your habits,” Wahood said.

Contact Us