A diabetes drug which has skyrocketed in popularity after being hailed as a weight loss solution should not be given to new patients amid a worldwide shortage, Australia’s medicines regulator has announced.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration said that it had been recently advised by Novo Nordisk, the company which makes Ozempic, that supplies were expected to be limited for this year and 2024.
Ozempic has experienced a boom in popularity after being spruiked by the likes of Elon Musk and Amy Schumer for its weight loss effects.
The drug is a diabetes medication and can have side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.
“Novo Nordisk advised that demand had accelerated in recent months … this additional demand is caused mainly by a rapid increase in prescribing for off-label use,” the TGA said in a statement.
The TGA has said new patients should not be prescribed Ozempic, unless there is no suitable alternative.
“For patients who are already prescribed Ozempic, consider if they can be changed to an alternative (by consulting appropriate prescribing guidelines) as continuous supply cannot be guaranteed,” the regulator said.
“Supplies should be conserved for patients who are stabilised on Ozempic who have no other treatment options.”
The TGA said pharmacists should prioritise patients who were already on the medication.
The TGA said that it had been advised by Novo Nordisk that Ozempic is in the grip of a worldwide shortage and they had increased manufacturing capacity, though it will take time to catch up to demand.
“Ozempic’s TGA-approved ‘indication’ (reason for use) is for the management of type 2 diabetes not adequately managed by other medications, in conjunction with diet and exercise,” the TGA said.
“If you are prescribed Ozempic for another reason, your doctor may decide to switch you to a different medicine.”
PR guru Roxy Jacenko recently revealed she was hospitalised after overdosing on Ozempic.
“I thought I was actually going to die,” she told the Saturday Telegraph.