The national medicine regulator has introduced restrictions on the prescription of diabetes drug Ozempic to help manage an international shortage.
Danish company Novo Nordisk advised the Therapeutic Goods Administration that supply of the drug through the rest of 2023 and 2024 will be limited, following increased demand of the low dose (0.25/0.5 mg) version recently.
The shortage has been linked to a social media trend in which people use it as a weight loss tool.
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The TGA has blamed the shortage on “off-label prescribing”, where the drug is being advised for uses other than those approved in Australia.
“Making Ozempic involves a complex process to produce semaglutide using specialised equipment in a unique manufacturing setting,” the TGA advised on its website.
“Novo Nordisk advised that very limited new supplies of Ozempic 0.25/0.5 mg would be available before the end of 2023 and there would be intermittent supply of all strengths of Ozempic throughout 2024,” the TGA said.
Ozempic is used to manage type two diabetes. Credit: Sunrise
The Therapeutic Goods Administration said to manage short supply, it has introduced a number of restrictions on the prescription of Ozempic, including recommending doctors only prescribe it to new patients if no other alternative was available.
Doctors are also being recommended to switch patients who are already using the drug to alternatives because continuous supply cannot be guaranteed.
TGA says Ozempic supplies “should be conserved for patients who are stabilised on Ozempic who have no other treatment options”.
Patients who currently use Ozempic for type 2 diabetes are being advised to check with their local pharmacy about supply.
Pharmacists are also being advised to continue prioritising limited supplies of Ozempic to patients stabilised on the treatment.
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