Ozempic shortage in Australia sparks new supply rules

by Arjun Singh

The national medicine regulator has implemented restrictions on the prescription of the diabetes drug Ozempic in response to an international shortage. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced the restrictions after Danish company Novo Nordisk advised that the supply of the drug would be limited through 2023 and 2024, citing increased demand for the low dose version.

The shortage of Ozempic has been linked to a social media trend in which people use it as a weight loss tool. The TGA has attributed the shortage to “off-label prescribing,” where the drug is recommended for uses not approved in Australia.

According to the TGA, the production of Ozempic involves a complex process using specialized equipment in a unique manufacturing setting. As a result, Novo Nordisk has indicated that only limited supplies of the drug will be available before the end of 2023, with intermittent supply in 2024.

To manage the short supply, the TGA has introduced several restrictions on the prescription of Ozempic. The agency recommends that doctors only prescribe the drug to new patients if no other alternative is available. Existing patients who are using the drug are advised to switch to alternatives due to the uncertainty of continuous supply.

The TGA emphasizes that Ozempic supplies should be conserved for patients who are already stabilized on the drug and have no other treatment options. Patients who currently use Ozempic for type 2 diabetes are advised to check with their local pharmacy regarding supply.

Pharmacists are also being advised to prioritize limited supplies of Ozempic for patients who are already stabilized on the treatment.

The introduction of these restrictions highlights the impact that the international shortage of Ozempic is having on diabetes management in Australia. It underscores the importance of ensuring the availability of essential medications and the need for health professionals and patients to be mindful of approved uses and appropriate prescribing practices.

It remains to be seen how long the shortage of Ozempic will persist and what measures will be taken to address the underlying issues contributing to the increased demand and limited supply. In the meantime, it is crucial for healthcare providers and patients to work together to identify suitable alternatives and ensure the effective management of diabetes.

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