- The Food and Drug Administration is reporting shortages of the type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic.
- The news comes after the drug went viral for causing weight loss.
- Experts say some people take the off-label drug to lose weight.
The prescription drug Ozempic, used to treat patients with type 2 diabetes, has gone viral on social media platform TikTok due to its weight loss side effect. Because the results are so dramatic, there has been an increase in patients who do not have type 2 diabetes seeking the off-label drug to take for its weight loss effects, leading to a shortage medication for people with type 2 diabetes who need it for other reasons.
Drug shortages are beginning to become a serious problem for patients who need them to manage their type 2 diabetes, forcing them to turn to other avenues that may be less effective.
Ozempic is an injectable medicine that is taken on a weekly basis for the type 2 diabetes treatment. It is used to manage blood sugar levels in adults, and to improve lifestyle when it comes to diet and exercise.
“Ozempic belongs to the GLP-1 RA family of drugs, which helps patients in three ways,” said Martha Garcia Stout, PharmD, JD, Lecturer in the College of Health Professions and Sciences at the University of Central Florida. “It helps by slowing stomach emptying, which delays nutrient absorption, preventing a post-meal glucose spike; increase the level of circulating insulin by stimulating the production of more insulin; and reduce the release of extra sugar from the liver into the bloodstream.
As part of the treatment for type 2 diabetes, Ozempic helps regulate digestion and appetite, making someone feel full so they eat fewer calories.
Ozempic can increase the amount of insulin in your body so your blood sugar doesn’t rise, it can slow the movement of food through your stomach, and it can reduce the amount of sugar in your bloodstream.
One of the results of using Ozempic is weight loss. It went viral on TikTok with the hashtags #Ozempic and #OzempicWeightLoss, both of which reveal videos that have drawn millions of viewers to see the dramatic weight loss transformations among those taking the drug, many of whom have never seen it. no type 2 diabetes.
“Ozempic is a very powerful blood sugar lowering drug and it is one of the most effective glucose drugs we have. type 2 diabetes,” said Dr Kathleen Dunganspecialist in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.
As a result, Ozempic is prescribed off-label, which refers to taking an FDA-approved drug for non-FDA-approved use.
“People without diabetes looking to lose weight ask their doctors for prescriptions of Ozempic to also get the same significant weight loss and appetite suppressing effects,” Garcia-Stout said.
This certainly creates a problem for diabetics who need to get the medications they need. In fact, the Food & Drug Administration listed it on their website as “Currently in short supply.”
“It becomes a big issue because patients have to be their own advocates,” Dungan said. “They have to tell their supplier if they can’t get the order. There is no automatic substitution. A supplier will have to write for a substation, but there may not be one always one depending on the dose the patient receives.
Also, the substation may not be covered by that patient’s insurance plan and there may be restrictions that prevent it from changing.
“If a patient isn’t a true advocate for themselves and doesn’t move on, then they may be at risk of their blood sugar levels spiraling out of control, which could lead to events such as hospitalization. “, added Dungan.
Ozempic has a sister drug, Wegovy, which has actually been approved for weight loss in obese people. The medicine contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic, semaglutide. Wegovy, like Ozempic, is also in short supply.
“Wegovy uses the same molecule, but is dosed differently and has different FDA regulations and guidelines,” Dungan said.
Although Ozempic and Wegovy contain the same active ingredient, one is FDA approved for weight loss and the other is not. Novo Nordisk, the maker of the two drugs, says the two are not interchangeable.
According to Novo Nordisk website“Although Wegovy and Ozempic both contain semaglutide, they are different products with different indications, dosages, titration schedules, etc. The products are not interchangeable. Other drugs approved by the FDA for chronic weight management are available.
Additionally, Ozempic has side effects that can be uncomfortable, including:
Serious side effects can include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Gallbladder disease
- Allergic reaction
“Patients can discuss with their physician the possibility of switching to another GLP-1 RA product,” Garcia-Stout said. “This may include the use of other semaglutide products. Patients may also turn to other members of the GLP-1 RA family of drugs, such as injectable alternatives to dulaglutide (Trulicity), exenatide ( Bydureon) or liraglutide (Victoza), as well as oral alternatives of lixisenatide (Adlyxin) and oral exenatide (Byetta).