My office has received a fair number of calls and emails lately about the lack of availability of a prescription drug known as Ozempic. This is an important injection for many people with type 2 diabetes. According to the manufacturer, its purpose is to “improve blood sugar” and “reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease.”
The issue is that some doctors are now prescribing Ozempic for cosmetic weight loss. This has caused a noticeable rise in demand for Ozempic and a similar drug known as Wegovy, which has led to shortages in many places across the country.
If you rely on Ozempic, it’s bad enough to find out there’s any type of shortage, but I’m sure it’s even more worrisome to learn the reason you’re facing a shortage is because others are after this medication for cosmetic weight loss.
I need to point out that Ozempic has received FDA approval for certain weight management treatments. Referring to type 2 diabetes patients, the manufacturer’s website says Ozempic “may help you lose some weight” but they go on to state their drug is “not for weight loss.” This would imply Ozempic may help type 2 diabetes patients with some weight loss, but that’s not the primary purpose of this medication, especially for non-diabetic patients.
Nevertheless, it’s important to remember as a general statement, doctors have the liberty to prescribe medications they believe may help their patients, in some cases even through off-label use. However, I understand how important this medication is for type 2 diabetes patients. My understanding is that Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic, has taken steps to increase production. Over the coming weeks and months this shortage should start to dissipate, but this will be something we’re keeping a close eye on in Congress.