Weight loss hopefuls buy up diabetic drug Ozempic

A nationwide shortage of a lifesaving diabetes drug has been triggered by weight loss hopefuls using an “immoral” method to obtain it.

A lifesaving drug hailed as a miracle weight loss solution is being deprived from people with diabetes across the country who need it.

Thousands of Australians have started using Ozempic (semaglutide) to shed kilos, with the once-a-week injectable drug helping to suppress hunger.

But Ozempic is only approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for diabetes, not weight management.

The rise in demand for the now popular drug means people with diabetes like David have been unable to find their required medication for three weeks as weight loss hopefuls snatching it up.

“When I’ve gone to try and get one there’s none available in the country at all,” David told 2GB Radio on Friday.

“We’ve actually spoken to our specialist and they said that there’s a supply issue.”

Pharmacy Guild of Australia President Trent Twomey explained Ozempic is used for weight loss but it is only approved for people with type 2 diabetes as prescribed by their doctor.

“So what the drug Ozempic has been approved for use in Australia for – it’s strictly for those with type two diabetes who need to lose some weight,” he said.

“You’ve got to have a certain body mass index to able to be eligible.”

Australians without diabetes have been able to access Ozempic through “Dr Google”, with online weight loss doctors issuing the drug to patients using a questionnaire and without even speaking to them.

“There’s been these entrepreneurial GPs who are popping up these apps that are issuing a script without them ever seeing a patient,” Mr Twomey said.

“There’s nothing illegal about it, a bit immoral I might say, but nothing illegal. This is what’s driving up that demand unfortunately.”

Mr Twomey said pharmaceutical companies were not anticipating such a rise in demand for Ozempic, leading to the supply issues currently seen.

“The company has said ‘listen we didn’t plan on having enough in Australia’ because it’s not made here locally,” Mr Twomey said.

On Monday healthcare company Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals said it is experiencing “strong demand for Ozempic”.

“Our priority is to ensure people living with type 2 diabetes are able to access Ozempic and we are taking actions towards continued stable supply,” it said in a statement.

Originally published as Critical diabetic drug in short supply due to ‘immoral’ practice across Australia