01/03/2024

A diabetic has urged people to stop ordering Ozempic for weight loss amid fears that shortages in supply of the treatment could worsen due to the delayed UK launch of sister drug Wegovy.

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This was said by Zami Jalil, a 41-year-old diabetic I his health is being put at serious risk by the shortage of Ozempic, which he has struggled to get hold of since the drug exploded in popularity as a weight-loss method.

It was hoped that the launch of a similar drug, Wegovy, which has been approved in the UK as a treatment for obesity, would ease pressure on supply, but the launch has now been delayed.

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Ozempic and Wegovy are both brand names of semaglutide, a drug that was initially introduced to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels.

Semaglutide has exploded in popularity over the past year after it was found to also help people lose weight. Many countries, including the UK, are now experiencing shortages of the drug.

Ozempic is currently only licensed as a diabetes treatment in the UK, however it is increasingly being prescribed off-label to aid weight loss.

Douglas Twenefour, care manager at Diabetes UK, warned that this off-label prescription means that people with diabetes are finding it increasingly difficult to access the drug.

While we understand that off-label prescribing can be beneficial in some circumstances, we cannot support it when it directly contributes to the ongoing shortages that impact people living with type 2 diabetes, and we encourage clinicians to be aware of this impact. stated. .

In March, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) approved the use of Wegovy for the treatment of obesity in the UK.

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Pharmacists had originally expected to start receiving their supply of Wegovy this month, but the drug’s launch has been delayed indefinitely.

We expected it to be available in the spring, but the manufacturer told us that since obviously the demand is higher than the stock they currently have, they want to delay its release. They want to make sure they can meet demand, said Dr. Leyla Hannbeck, managing director of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies.

I lost a stone in three months

Jackie Bannister has cast a stone since she started taking Ozempic for weight loss (Photo: Supplied)
Jackie Bannister has lost a stone since starting Ozempic for weight loss (Photo: Supplied)

Jackie Bannister, 35, has been prescribed Ozempic off-label since February of this year to help her lose weight.

She said I she exercises regularly and eats a balanced diet, but has struggled to lose weight. At 5ft2, she weighed 114kg when she started using the jabs.

It got to the point where I was thinking about whether I needed dramatic surgery or something, but the thought of going under the knife and having my stomach basically turned the size of a tennis ball absolutely terrifies me, she said.

During the first three months of taking Ozempic he lost a stone. He currently he’s paying about 190 a month for shots.

I have definitely noticed a big change in my appetite; how much can I eat, being able to say no to things. It made me much more consistent. I have always struggled with weight loss. I yo-yo quite a bit, this has allowed me to have pretty much every day a good day, she said.

Ms Bannister wants to take Wegovy once it is launched in the UK but will continue to take Ozempic in the meantime.

I was happy to continue funding it myself. I don’t want to keep taking diabetes medications away from people, she said.

Ms Bannister said it was a real shame the launch of Wegovy was delayed as she believes it would have eased Ozempic’s supply.

I think a lot of people had so much hope and put their hearts into it. But it’s a pity, she said.

Mr Jalil said I it was not good news that Wegovy’s launch was delayed as it has a knock-on effect on Ozempic’s supply.

The professional musician has been taking Ozempic to control his blood glucose levels for a year and a half, but said he’s started to notice deficiencies in recent months.

It seems to be getting worse. My doctor prescribes it two months at a time, but I have to re-prescribe about eight weeks in advance, he said.

He recently had to go without Ozempic for three weeks, during which time his blood sugar levels reached more than four times their healthy level.

This is serious, he said. It’s a matter of life and death because having too much sugar in the blood really shortens our life expectancy.

I just want people to think really carefully. Before you start stockpiling and getting all this Ozempic is really affecting those who really need it. Even going without it for two weeks really puts diabetics at serious health risk, he said she.

A spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Wegovy and Ozempic, said it hadn’t confirmed a launch date for Wegovy in the UK and was working to get it available as soon as possible.

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