Supply chain disruptions have made it difficult for people to get their hands on the necessities of daily life over the last few years, and medications are no exception—both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs have seen recent shortages. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed the shortage of the popular ADHD drug Adderall amid rising concerns over securing the medication. But now, the agency has confirmed that another drug is in short supply—one that is causing anxiety among Americans. Read on to find out what other popular medication is facing a new shortage due to “unprecedented demand.”
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Shortages have become all too common during COVID, but the FDA has been warning Americans about supply issues impacting medications for years. The agency created a searchable database that provides easy access to information about drugs facing shortages, with information such as product availability, supply, and estimated duration of shortage.” As of Oct. 19, the database—which is updated daily—has 126 different medications marked as “currently in shortage.”
“Drug shortages can occur for many reasons, including manufacturing and quality problems, delays, and discontinuations,” the FDA warns. “Manufacturers provide FDA most drug shortage information, and the agency works closely with them to prevent or reduce the impact of shortages.”
Now, one particular medication that may be hard to find is causing concern among consumers.
On Oct. 3, the FDA updated its database to alert Americans about a shortage involving one popular medication: Ozempic. This drug, which is also known generically as semaglutide, is “used to treat type 2 diabetes,” the Mayo Clinic explains. But according to the FDA, it is currently limited in its availability with “short term stock outages” affecting various localized pharmacies across the U.S. “Intermittent supply disruption will continue through Nov. 2022,” the agency noted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 37 million Americans have diabetes, with up to 95 percent of them having Type 2 diabetes. Ozempic is “proven to improve blood sugar in adults with Type 2 diabetes,” alongside diet and exercise, as well as reduce “the risk of major cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack, or death.” But many people take Ozempic for a different reason, as well.
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According to the FDA, Ozempic is currently facing a shortage due to “demand increase for the drug.” But the significant number of Type 2 diabetes patients in the U.S. isn’t necessarily to blame for this. Instead, Ozempic is currently receiving a lot of attention for its weight loss side effects, Today reported on Oct. 18. As the news outlet explained, news about this drug has recently gone viral, garnering over 300 million views on TikTok alone.
Because of this, doctors have become inundated with requests and questions regarding potential Ozempic prescriptions. “It’s become something very hot and heavy in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills,” Nancy Rahnama, MD, an internist and obesity medicine specialist in Beverly Hills, California, told Today. Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic, has even referred to the rising demand for the medication has “unprecedented,” per the news outlet.
But this is causing concern for people with Type 2 diabetes who have long relied on this drug. “There is a lot of anxiety in the community right now over the Ozempic shortage,” Zoe Wiit, who lives with insulin-dependent diabetes and works as a spokesperson for Mutual Aid Diabetes (MAD), told CBS News. “Social media is pushing this, there’s so many pressures on people to lose weight.”
Ozempic is “not currently FDA approved for use as a weight loss drug” in the general population, according to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC). But this hasn’t stopped people without diabetes from getting—or trying to get—the drug. Nancy Rahnama, MD, an obesity medicine specialist, told CBS News that doctors can prescribe Ozempic as they see fit to treat different conditions, even among non-diabetics. But she said she has actually started screening phone calls and refusing appointments for certain patients amid a flood of requests for Ozempic. “I don’t prescribe this drug to them if they don’t qualify for it,” she told the news outlet.
This is because there are serious concerns for using Ozempic specifically as weight loss medication. “If they stop the drug, they will gain their weight back and then some,” Rahnama said, noting that using the medicine without real need could also result in serious long term risks, such as gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, kidney issues and gallstone issues.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you’re taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.