The trend of TikTok sold out Ozempic, making diabetics dizzy and scared

The trend of TikTok sold out Ozempic, making diabetics dizzy and scared

Ozempic injection helps control sugar levels for type 2 diabetics. (Representative)

For more than a month, Shane Anthony, a 57-year-old auto mechanic, hasn’t been able to afford diabetes medication.

According to a database maintained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Ozempic, an injectable blood sugar control drug intended for patients with type 2 diabetes, has been in short supply for about four months and Ordered later at Anthony’s Seattle pharmacy. Without a prescription made by Novo Nordisk A/S, he often gets dizzy while fixing his car. Alternative medicines are out of stock or not covered by insurance.

While increased demand and supply chain delays have caused many drugs from the antibiotic amoxicillin to Adderall to be in short supply, the reason for the lack of some diabetes drugs is unusual: doctors are prescribing prescription for people without diabetes who want to use them to lose weight.

Mr. Anthony said: ‘All celebrities, stars who don’t need to lose weight will lose weight. “I need it to stay healthy and not die.”

For the more than 35 million people with type 2 diabetes, deficiency adds another layer to managing an already complex and expensive chronic disease. They have also exposed weaknesses in the use of prescription drugs outside of US guidelines, allowing doctors to dispense drugs to treat a condition other than those for which they have been officially approved. When those drugs are hard to find because of celebrity hype and social media, patients with diabetes suffer.

Ozempic, commonly known as semaglutide, is one of a class of diabetes medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists that has been around for nearly two decades. It was first approved in the United States in 2017 for use in people with type 2 diabetes. Ozempic mimics a hormone involved in appetite and eating, helping to stimulate insulin production and reduce the patient’s blood sugar. It also often leads to them losing weight.

Francisco Prieto, a family doctor in Sacramento, California, who sees at least one person with diabetes each week has difficulty filling an Ozempic prescription. Mr. Prieto, who also does advocacy work for the American Diabetes Association, said patients will call multiple pharmacies and drive around town to see if stock is available, but some have yet to buy. Okay.

One of Prieto’s patients recently experienced a three-week delay in filling a prescription for Trulicity, a similar type 2 diabetes drug that is also seeing growing demand for weight loss. Mr. Prieto prescribed a lower dose and advised patients to get two injections a week. He describes compromise as “less than ideal, but better than nothing.”

Without medication, patients with diabetes could be at higher risk of conditions like heart disease, heart attack, infections like Covid, disability and even death, said Prieto. And while getting another prescription may be an option, it could come with new hurdles, including coverage and tighter monitoring in cases where the alternative doesn’t work either.

Both new and established users of Ozempic are affected by periodic supply disruptions. A representative for the manufacturer Novo Nordisk said in a statement that the problems are expected to continue until January. The company cited “astonishing demand” and short-term capacity constraints at some plants, and said it was investing to grow production.

The company said that a higher dose of Ozempic is now available that is not normally given to new patients, and Novo’s other GLP-1 diabetes drugs are also not in short supply, although there may be a usual delay. at pharmacies. In an earnings report in November, Novo said the company’s sales, measured in Danish kroner, rose 26% in the first nine months of the year, largely due to higher demand for Ozempic and other diabetes medications.

A Lilly spokeswoman said Trulicity and Mounjaro of Eli Lilly & Co., both approved to treat type 2 diabetes, are also seeing demand that has led to ordering some dosages at stores. Pharmacies. The drugs were listed by the FDA as a shortage on Thursday. A spokesperson said Lilly has no supply chain or manufacturing issues, although the company is working to double its production capacity for this category by the end of next year.

Although over-the-counter prescribing is common and legal in the United States, it has long created problems. For example, in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, people were taking an unproven drug called hydroxychloroquine that they believed worked against the virus. That creates a shortage for patients taking it to treat lupus and arthritis.

Ozempic is a good candidate for off-label use for obesity, which is also considered a disease and may put people at higher risk of other diseases: official advertisement for drug This report states that patients lose an average of 12 pounds while taking the drug. It is not clear that everyone who uses the drug has a medical need for it.

On TikTok, some videos with the hashtag #Ozempic have been viewed more than a million times. Medical spas offer prescriptions along with Botox injections and laser hair removal. Sponsored ads on Google promise weight loss without exercise or dieting. One plastic surgeon bragged on Facebook about using the drug to lose the 10 pounds she’s gained during Covid and said call her office to get started.

The FDA does not regulate this type of prescription. That means many decisions about what to do are up to the individual.

“Which disease is the most acute and severe? What diseases have alternatives? How relevant are those alternatives?” Holly Fernandez Lynch, assistant professor of medical ethics and law at the University of Pennsylvania. “These are the kinds of questions that will help you figure out which patients should be prioritized to reach.”

Fernandez Lynch said the ruling will depend on the individual case. But people who just want to lose a few pounds shouldn’t take a scarce resource someone else needs, she said.

In Seattle, Mr. Anthony was recently able to get an alternative diabetes medication. It’s a much older treatment that requires injections twice a day before meals, something he doesn’t have to think about with Ozempic and has found challenging. It’s too early to know how well it will work for him.

Mr. Prieto, the GP, says his patients fear and worry about shortages – especially if the drug is actually helping to improve their health.

“Right now, diabetes is a bigger danger, and those people have a higher need for medication,” he said.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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