Ozempic, Wegovy shortages having impact on patients; here’s what experts suggest

PITTSBURGH — Ozempic and Wegovy use has skyrocketed over the past few years and now there are shortages for many patients.

It’s frustrating for people who are relying on the medications to stay healthy. And experts want to make sure people don’t put themselves at risk while supplies are low.

Maria Dutilly’s diabetes diagnosis came as a complete surprise after she had routine bloodwork done. Her A1C was 13, which was high.

She tried several different medications to control her blood sugar, but nothing worked well. Doctors turned to Ozempic. For Maria, it did the trick--taming her high A1C and jumpstarting a path to better health. She dropped 100 pounds, and her blood sugar and blood pressure are controlled.

But now, the drug that is lifesaving for her is nearly impossible to find. Semaglutide, marketed as Ozempic and Wegovy-- is in high demand. The medications regulate blood sugar and block the receptors in the brain that produce cravings, helping with weight loss. As a result, more people are searching it out.

It’s frustrating for people like Maria.

“That makes it harder for us to get our drug that we need in order to take care of a medical situation like diabetes,” she said.

Sarah Winter, PharmD, is a clinical pharmacist with Allegheny Health Network. She’s part of a family medicine team---treating patients with obesity and diabetes. For some, Ozempic, and Wegovy are potentially life-changing, when they’re available.

“I would say on a daily basis I’m on the FDA Drug Shortage website looking at the shortages of all the medications,” said Winter.

The FDA website shows no availability for the drugs formulated for the lowest dose of semaglutide, and no time frame for when they’ll be available.

“It’s a very frustrating situation to be in especially when they are having such success, but I give a lot of caution to looking elsewhere,” said Winter.

That includes ordering medications from the Internet. Experts caution you just can’t be sure what you’re getting.

The FDA and Ozempic manufacturer Novo Nordisk are investigating reports of counterfeit Ozempic. Not only is the medication fake, but the needles that come with the products are also counterfeit.

“The concern about the counterfeit Ozempic is that if you don’t know whether that formulation is the FDA approved form or a different form or other ingredients, there is the potential for harm to patients,” said Dr. Joshua Shulman, Medical Director, Pittsburgh Poison Control Center at UPMC.

Maria Dutilly is on her very last dose; a sample that her doctor had in the medical office. One shot, one dose, will cover her for a month. After that-

“It’s like the lottery. Will I get my medicine on time, or not?

Diabetes experts say there are other medications that control blood sugar; however, some of those medications, like Mounjaro, are also in short supply. The manufacturer, Eli Lilly, says they expect Mounjaro supplies to be limited until the end of August. In a letter to healthcare officials, the maker of Ozempic, Novo Nordisk says the company expects the supply to improve over the next few months. Novo Nordisk said late last month it has increased the supply of the lowest dose of Wegovy, which should make it more available for patients in the U.S.

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