In 2022, Ozempic, a prescription drug for treating type-2 diabetes, went viral as people touted its potential weight loss benefits. Ozempic is one of a few brand names for the drug semaglutide.
Is there an ongoing Ozempic shortage?
Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of both Ozempic and Wegovy
Robert Gabbay, M.D. and Ph.D., chief scientific and medical officer with the American Diabetes Association
Jennifer Middleton, M.D., writing for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) community blog
Yes, there is an ongoing Ozempic shortage.
WHAT WE FOUND
Novo Nordisk expects to have full availability for Ozempic in mid-March.
The FDA says Ozempic has been in shortage due to an increase in demand since August 2022. Currently, doses of 0.25 mg/0.5 mg are in short supply.
“The 1 mg and 2 mg doses of Ozempic are now available for patients with type 2 diabetes across the U.S.,” a Novo Nordisk spokesperson told VERIFY in an email. “However, we are currently experiencing intermittent supply disruptions on the Ozempic pen that delivers 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg doses – which is anticipated through mid-March – due to the combination of incredible demand coupled with overall global supply constraints.”
Although neither the FDA or the ASHP gives a reason for the demand increase, a blog post written by Jennifer Middleton, M.D., for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) links the shortage to a viral social media trend touting Ozempic and a similar drug’s apparent effectiveness for losing weight. The drugs first began to get attention on TikTok in early 2022, and have remained popular on social media into the start of 2023.
Wegovy, which is another semaglutide brand name manufactured by Novo Nordisk, also went viral on social media due to its apparent effectiveness for weight loss and then experienced shortages beginning in March 2022. This drug, unlike Ozempic, is designed to be used for obesity treatments. Wegovy is now more readily available according to ASHP.
On Dec. 28, 2022, Novo Nordisk announced that all dose strengths of Wegovy are now available nationwide. On the same supply update page Novo Nordisk made the announcement, the pharmaceutical company warned people not to replace Wegovy with Ozempic.
“Although Wegovy and Ozempic both contain semaglutide, they are different products with different indications, dosages, prescribing information, titration schedules, etc,” Novo Nordisk wrote. “The products are not interchangeable.”
Semaglutide helps the pancreas release the right amount of insulin to control blood sugar levels and keep them low, MedlinePlus says. It also slows the movement of food through the stomach and decreases appetite. Weight loss in traditional Ozempic patients is a side effect as opposed to an intended effect, and some patients in trials even gained weight while on Ozempic, Novo Nordisk says.
“In addition to helping reduce appetite and lose weight [semaglutide] also stimulates insulin secretion with meals and lowers the amount of a hormone (glucagon),” Robert Gabbay, M.D. and Ph.D., chief scientific and medical officer with the American Diabetes Association, said. “Glucagon is a hormone that increases blood glucose levels so by decreasing that hormone it helps control blood glucose.”
While the FDA approved Wegovy for weight loss treatment in 2021, its approval for Ozempic was strictly for its use as a type-2 diabetes treatment. The two drugs come in different available doses, which matters because patients are more likely to experience semaglutide’s side effects if they use higher doses of the drug.