How Using Ozempic For Weight Loss Is Impacting Diabetes Patients

For people diagnosed with diabetes, essential medications can be critical for the management of symptoms and overall quality of life. However, the prescription drug Ozempic, which has been used to treat diabetes, causes weight loss, and the increased demand is making it difficult for patients with diabetes to obtain the dosages they need, reports CNN. Ozempic can help those with diabetes manage their blood sugar and simultaneously lose weight to even further manage symptoms of the condition, but the rising demand to use the medication for weight loss is making it a struggle for enough of the drug to be distributed to those who rely on it. Pharmacies nationwide have reported being completely out of the medication or in very low stock at best, which has led people to seek lower dosages and partial fills just to get by. 

Ozempic is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk and was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. For those with Type 2 diabetes, Ozempic delivered by injection can effectively lower blood sugar levels (via Ozempic). The medication has also been proven to decrease levels of hemoglobin A1C, which can decrease the risks of stroke and loss of vision. The hallmark of Type 2 diabetes is the inability of the body to properly regulate glucose in the blood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since there isn't a cure for Type 2 diabetes, managing symptoms is the best way to prevent complications and life-threatening situations.

Social media may be behind the shortage

Online social media platforms, like TikTok, may be part of the reason why Ozempic is in short supply since the medication has recently garnered attention for its weight loss capabilities, per The Hill. From celebrities like Elon Musk to influencers across platforms, the prevalence of before-and-after photos showing how people have lost significant amounts of weight by using Ozempic has increased demand for the drug by people without a diabetic diagnosis.

An important distinction is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Ozempic for weight loss. However, many doctors have been prescribing the medication to patients for weight loss, says Forbes. While weight loss can help people with diabetes better control their symptoms, therefore making the added benefit of Ozempic productive for the management of their medical condition, the surge in demand from people simply looking to lose weight quickly and easily has placed those with legitimate diabetic diagnoses in peril. Some patients with diabetes have been waiting months for initial doses or refills of Ozempic, with many people paying exorbitant out-of-pocket prices to receive what is available in their local areas (via The Hill). Ozempic carries side effects presenting disruptions to daily life, such as nausea and difficulties eating, reports SkyNews. The medication can lead to gallstones, pancreatitis, and thyroid cancer. Evidence-based benefits for diabetes management may outweigh the downsides, but people looking to take Ozempic should be informed of the risks.