Diabetes drug shortage due to weight loss trend

Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 10:35 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A social media craze has created serious problems for people with diabetes in Atlanta.

Jonathan Marquess, a pharmacist and owner of Mableton Pharmacy said he receives calls about drugs like Ozempic, Monjaro, and Trulicity every day. While these drugs are intended to treat type two diabetes, many non-diabetic people have begun using them as a weight loss treatment.

Marquess said the drugs have become more difficult to find over the past several months.

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“I had three people call me today to make sure I wasn’t going to give away “their Ozempic” to someone just using it for weight loss,” said Marquess.

Marquess said injections of these types of drugs once a week can help people easily lose eight pounds or more.

As celebrities and influencers tout the weight loss solution on social media, people who suffer from type two diabetes have noticed a shortage in medication.

“They’re scared to death,” said Marquess. “We don’t have the drug, people with diabetes are increasing, and people now are trying it for weight loss. It’s the perfect storm.”

Ozempic manufacturer Novo Nordisk acknowledged a nationwide shortage of the drug, which will likely continue into the new year.

“Patients in some areas of the country will experience delays with these doses – and expect that to continue through January 2023,” said a spokesperson for the company.

Marquess predicted the shortage could see a turnaround soon.

“I think it’s going to get better,” he said. “I think manufacturing will go back up.”

The FDA has not approved these drugs for weight loss.

A Novo Nordisk spokesperson said, “While we recognize that some healthcare providers may be prescribing Ozempic® for patients whose goal is to lose weight, Novo Nordisk does not promote, suggest, or encourage off-label use of our medicines.”

Until supply catches up to demand, Marquess suggested smaller independent pharmacies may have more stock of the medication.

“The larger pharmacies in this area have been out for about a month,” he said. “Call around to the independent local pharmacies and you might be surprised.”

Marquess said people interested in medication to lose weight should ask their healthcare practitioner about Wegovy, a drug by Novo Nordisk specifically formulated for weight loss.

Wegovy and Ozempic both contain semaglutide, but differ in dosages, prescription, patient reaction time, and delivery devices. Wegovy is FDA-approved for chronic weight management in overweight or obese adults.