A shortage of diabetes drug Ozempic that is used off-label for weight loss is expected in Canada, manufacturer Novo Nordisk and Health Canada said on Friday.
“We are experiencing a temporary supply disruption with the Ozempic one-milligram (injection) pen due to the combination of overall global supply constraints coupled with increased demand,” said Novo Nordisk spokesperson Kate Hanna in an emailed statement.
On its website, Health Canada said “intermittent shortages” are expected from late August to early October.
The 0.25-milligram and 0.5-milligram doses of Ozempic injection pens remain available “for patients with Type 2 diabetes across Canada,” Hanna said.
“Canada is one of many countries experiencing supply challenges. We have been proactively working with our global colleagues, Health Canada, and medication shipment partners to address this issue to mitigate impact across Canada,” she said.
The lower-dose pens “may be an option for some patients to mitigate the impacts” of the supply disruption, Health Canada’s web page said.
But “it will be important to avoid further shortages,” it said.
Health Canada and Novo Nordisk are “closely monitoring” the supply of Rybelsus, which is the pill form of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, the web page said.
“Patients are encouraged to consult with a health care practitioner on available options,” Health Canada said.
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Ozempic and Rybelsus are currently approved by Health Canada for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.
Endocrinologists have previously told The Canadian Press that semaglutide, prescribed at higher doses, is also an effective treatment for obesity and that they have prescribed it off-label for that purpose.
But some doctors and ethics experts have criticized Novo Nordisk for aggressively marketing both Ozempic and Rybelsus in Canada in recent months, citing concerns that people will seek prescriptions for cosmetic weight loss.
Another semaglutide drug manufactured by Novo Nordisk, Wegovy, has been approved by Health Canada for the treatment of obesity, but it is not yet available in this country.
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Ozempic is a brand name for a drug that’s prescribed to help manage Type 2 diabetes. But it’s also being used in Canada as a treatment for obesity, something that some doctors – and a lot of people on TikTok – are talking about. There’s a lot of questions about the risks and benefits of Ozempic when it comes to weight loss, and so much interest that there’s been supply shortages of the drug, particularly in the United States. Elaine Chen is a cardiovascular disease reporter at STAT News. She covers metabolic conditions including diabetes and obesity. Today, she discusses why some people are calling this new drug a gamechanger and how it is challenging the way the medical community treats people who live with obesity.
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