TikTok trend promoting Ozempic for weight loss causes shortage for people with type 2 diabetes


A TikTok trend promoting the off-label use of a crucial drug has sparked a nationwide shortage and created “havoc” for people who need it most.

People with type 2 diabetes are still going without their essential medicine as a TikTok trend promoting its off-label use as miracle weight-loss solution continues to grow.

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Australia has been hit with a nationwide shortage of Ozempic (semaglutide), a once-a-week injectable drug that is only approved for people with type 2 diabetes in conjunction with dieting and exercising.

But GPs and health professionals have been prescribing the medicine off label to thousands of weight-loss hopefuls across the country.

These people have been documenting their success on TikTok with hashtags like #ozempicjourney.

“In three weeks I went down a full dress size without trying to diet,” one said.

“I lost 25kgs in 4 months. And now there’s a national shortage,” another said.

In response to someone who asked how Ozempic was being prescribed for weight loss when it was only approved for type 2 diabetes, a commenter said “primary use is for diabetics for subsidy but is used off label for weight loss. Doctor can prescribe it. I had no issues getting it and I’m not diabetic”.

Two weeks ago the Therapeutic Goods Administration released a firm joint statement on the shortage of Ozempic, telling health professionals to only prescribe and dispense it for its approved use.

The statement, which was made in conjunction with nine other health bodies including the Australian Medical Association, said the essential and continued care of people with type 2 diabetes needed to be prioritised.

It warned individuals who did not have type 2 diabetes that there Ozempic prescription might not be filled.

The manufacturer, Dutch pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, has indicated there are enough supplies for Ozempic’s approved use, but the “recent significant prescribing” for “obesity management” has created shortages.

People with type 2 diabetes have been advised to stick with their usual pharmacy and to fill their script “as early as possible”.

Ashleigh Rae, who has type 2 diabetes, told NCA NewsWire earlier this month that not being able to access Ozempic had “wreaked havoc” on her body after the pharmacist she had been going to since she was a child no longer had it.

“Because Ozempic changes the way you digest food, when you suddenly have a withdrawal from it your body has to snap back to what it was before,” she said.

“Without it your blood sugar goes a bit crazy, which means the rest of your diabetes can be really hard to manage.

“I went from having my pharmacist order in Ozempic because it was so new and nobody was on it to all of sudden there’s no stock anywhere in Australia in the space of one script.”

While she made it clear her frustration was with the GPs for prescribing it off label, Ms Rae said “it’s really frustrating when we hear stories about people who are using it to lose just a few kilos”.

“Taking it because you want to lose a little bit of weight like a couple of kilos versus people who actually really need it for serious weight issues and diabetes is very different.”



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