Recently, due to increased consumer demand, diabetes drug Ozempic (and off-label weight loss) has been experiencing shortages and backorders at US pharmacies since August. Demand for the treatments, which act as an appetite suppressant, has increased significantly this year following widespread promotion on social media for weight loss, while its FDA-approved use is for diabetes.
At the current time, the manufacturing company, Novo Nordisk, has not issued a statement about Ozempic shortages in the United States. However, such as in a joint statement with the TGA, they have addressed shortages in other countries including Australia. In the statement, they note there is "intermittent availability" of the medication due to the unexpected increase in demand on social media channels like TikTok and Instagram.
They are also encouraging patients to leave prescriptions with their regular pharmacy if possible. According to their website, doing so allows the pharmacist to order it for each patient and help patients get the medicines they need. The joint statement also mentioned they strongly encourage pharmacists to limit dispensing to one month of medication at a time and give priority to diabetes patients. Healthcare providers and other health professionals may choose to not prescribe Ozempic to new patients that don't have diabetes mellitus in order to manage demand as well.
Wegovy, which is also an FDA-approved GLP-1 receptor agonist medication, specifically for weight loss, has been out of stock since earlier this year.
In March, Novo Nordisk had an issue with one of its contract manufacturers which then led to them capping doses of Wegovy. When this occurred, some patients had trouble obtaining their prescriptions. Fortunately, things have gotten better since the spring and production has resumed. There was a brief pause in production for the lower doses but thankfully that has also changed and supply is likely to be fully on track by the end of the year.
Novo Nordisk plans to have every dose strength of Wegovy available in the USA by late this year. Our priority is to maintain continuity of care for all patients, so we will make sure that we have every dose strength in stock before taking on new patients or launching any promotional campaigns.
Yes, you can still get a prescription for semaglutide, but it is likely that the prescription will be hard to fill. Off-label medications for obesity treatment will be harder to obtain, and lower doses are limited to support patients currently taking the medications.
There are many alternatives to Ozempic and Wegovy for weight loss, which an Alfie provider may prescribe to you. These include medications like tirzepatide (Mounjaro) and liraglutide (Saxenda), both suitable alternative GLP-1RA given daily for weight and obesity management.