Australian type 2 diabetics can’t get Ozempic drug following weight loss binge
Ozempic is a medicine for adults with type 2 diabetes and when combined with diet and exercise can help improve blood sugar levels.
Although it is not for weight loss, it can also help people lose weight.
But while it helps some people lose weight, so many people have been prescribed the drug for dieting that there isn’t enough Ozempic to go around.
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This means that some people with type 2 diabetes, who are in desperate need of medication, are unable to get their hands on it.
“It worries me that I can’t get the medicine I need,” Anna Buxton told A Current Affair.
“I went to the pharmacist last week to get my monthly dose of Ozempic and they…said it was not available and they were restricted by only allowing three prescriptions a day.”
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Buxton suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) and in August last year the disabled pensioner was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
She was prescribed Ozempic, which she said was a “lifesaver.”
“Since October of last year I’ve lost 30 pounds,” Buxton said.
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She said it helped her avoid complications from diabetes, but she has now been told not to expect her next dose until at least June.
Truck driver David Angelo needs to take Ozempic once a week to control his diabetes.
“I haven’t been able to get it for two and a half weeks,” Angelo said.
His specialist said he should be fine for six weeks, but Angelo fears that if he doesn’t get the medicine within the next two and a half weeks, he could lose his job.
“If I can’t control my diabetes, that means they’ll take away my license,” Angelo said.
Ozempic is self-administered weekly.
It was enrolled in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in July 2020, which means around 40,000 people with type 2 diabetes pay around $130 per month.
For some, it bridges the gap between exercise and expensive surgery, but the Therapeutic Goods Administration has not approved Ozempic for weight loss.
Endocrinologist and CEO of the Australian Diabetes Society, Dr Sof Andrikopoulos, said there may be side effects that people should be aware of.
“So the main side effects of the drug are gastrointestinal, so constipation, diarrhea, vomiting are the main side effects of the drug,” Andrikopoulos said.
“There is (also) a small increase in your heart rate of about two or three beats per minute.”
Andrikopoulos said he feared Ozempic would be handed out like candy.
“There is a clear warning for pregnancy, for women of childbearing potential, that this drug should be stopped, that women should be on contraception while taking this drug because we don’t know what the side effects will be for a newborn baby,” Andrikopoulos said.
The company that produces and distributes Ozempic, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, said A topical matter it is experiencing a significant increase in demand for the drug in Australia and around the world.
He said deliveries of Ozempic in Australia this year have greatly exceeded those originally planned and as it takes time to increase supply, there may be intermittent availability at pharmacies.
Like Buxton and Angelo, Yvonne Appleby is also worried about her health.
She tried to control her weight and diabetes for 11 years, but thinks Ozempic is the only thing that worked.
“It made me go from a size 18 to a size 14 in my clothes, it lowers my blood sugar,” Appleby said.
Appleby has a stern message for Ozempic users.
“We don’t use it for cosmetic reasons, we use it as a life-saving treatment because type 2 is chronic and progressive and we need to be able to benefit from this treatment,” she said.
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