TikTok users are causing shortages of an important diabetes medication in Australia - by using it for weight loss
The Therapeutic Goods Administration earlier this month issued a joint statement with several medical bodies confirming a shortage of Ozempic due to “unexpected increase in consumer demand” and called for professionals to only prescribe it appropriately.
“The increased demand is due to extensive prescribing for obesity management, for which Ozempic is not indicated. The shortage is significantly affecting people using Ozempic for its approved use for type 2 diabetes,” the statement read.
It comes as TikTok users have been documenting their weight loss using hashtags including #ozempic, #ozempicjourney and #ozempicaustralia.
My first izempic injection for weightloss! Please help me 😅🤞🏽💪🏽 #ozempicweightloss #ozempicjourney #ozempic
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president, Dr Karen Price, warned there were side effects to using Ozempic to manage weight loss – such as nausea and vomiting – as well as contraindications if pregnant or breastfeeding.
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“There are lots of issues people need to be aware of but most importantly, it’s not yet approved in Australia or the UK for weight loss. It’s being used off-label, which means that this huge demand is now stopping people who have a genuine need for the medication for their diabetes,” she told the Guardian.
“Most people can see the ethical dilemma there.”
She added that health advice offered on social media apps such as TikTok can be "simple" and people should assess it carefully.
“Often it’s very simplistically done, by non-medical people, and sadly it’s a very consumeristic approach to healthcare. Healthcare is never simple and it does need expert guidance,” she said, adding that GPs could work with patients on a tailored weight management program.
“Weight loss is complex, it does require a whole lifestyle approach – psychology, exercise, diet – and depending on what’s going on for that person, including their other medications and other medical conditions.
“There’s no miracle medication. It really is in the context of an overall lifestyle program.
“We need to leave this drug for those who’ve got diabetes and wait and see where the developments go,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Victoria president, Anthony Tassone, confirmed supplies of Ozempic could remain low for weeks.
“I haven’t seen that medication in my pharmacy’s fridge for some time, unfortunately, and according to the medication shortage notices, stock may not be expected until mid-June,” he told reporters.
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