November 28, 2023

A diabetes drug is facing shortages all over the world and leading to wellness worries as users flood social media with posts boasting its qualities as a “ponder” bodyweight loss hack.

France’s drug safety agency mentioned this 7 days it was ramping up surveillance steps to assure that prescriptions of the remedy, Ozempic, are constrained to sufferers with form 2 diabetic issues.

Created by the Danish business Novo Nordisk, Ozempic is an injectable drug that regulates blood sugar ranges and insulin. It is ordinarily approved to grown ups struggling from Variety 2 diabetic issues, the most popular style of diabetic issues.

But the drug’s active ingredient, semaglutide, also mimics a hormone identified as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that targets regions of the brain that regulate hunger and food stuff. Simply because it can make customers really feel entire quicker, it can lead them to get rid of bodyweight.

As a result, Ozempic has been touted on the Online as a miracle food plan drug. On TikTok, the hashtag #Ozempic previously has in excess of 600 million sights and counting.

Even Twitter’s new manager, the billionaire Elon Musk, has credited Ozempic – along with a very similar drug, Wegovy – as one particular of the good reasons he drop 13 kg.

On Fb, groups committed to the use of Ozempic for fat reduction have tens of thousands of followers.

The world-wide spike in demand from customers has previously brought on a lack of Ozempic in Australia that is predicted to continue to disrupt offer for another “couple months”.

Australian authorities have named on wellness specialists to stay clear of initiating new prescriptions of Ozempic and, when dealing with patients with obesity, to think about options to semaglutide “until eventually source stabilises”.

France’s nationwide drug basic safety agency issued identical directions in September when it urged medical professionals to only initiate new GLP-1 drug prescriptions for individuals with Sort 2 diabetic issues with a heritage of stroke or coronary heart disorder.

On Wednesday, the regulator explained the latest estimates prompt that over the training course of a year, some 2,185 individuals in France were being given Ozempic even as they were not diabetic. That usually means around 1 for each cent of Ozempic prescriptions included by point out wellbeing insurance plan ended up “misused,” it stated.

The agency pressured that these off-label prescriptions ended up squeezing out diabetic people who definitely wanted the drug, and it warned of “potentially really serious” facet results this sort of as gastrointestinal diseases, pancreatitis and small blood sugar.

Authorities in the United kingdom and Australia have also issued warnings to influencers selling these medicine on the web. In France, pharmaceutical advertising and marketing to the common general public is a remarkably controlled apply, which necessitates prior authorisation and is reserved for medications that are not reimbursed by the public health and fitness insurance technique.

In an emailed statement, Novo Nordisk said it “does not promote or endorse off-label use” of its items and that it collaborates carefully with overall health authorities to make certain individual safety.

The drumaker stated in December that it was having the shortages critically and had invested $1.6 billion (€1.5 billion) in 2022 alone to expand its production potential and catch up with “more powerful than anticipated” demand from customers.

What are the well being pitfalls?

The shortage has outcomes not only for patients with diabetic issues who need to have to observe their therapy on a everyday basis but also for the people who are turning to these drugs completely for bodyweight reduction.

“It can be mild digestive side effects, from time to time extreme constipation and irritation of the pancreas. In scarce instances, this can lead to cancer,” François Montastruc, a pharmacologist at the Toulouse University Clinic (Haute-Garonne), explained to the French Television set channel France 3 late last calendar year.

The guidance for Ozempic released by the European Medicines Agency state that nausea, diarrhoea and hypoglycaemia are “extremely widespread” side effects. Like all medications, Ozempic also has contraindications that a medical professional really should choose into account when prescribing it.

Prescription guidelines vary from region to nation, but Ozempic has not been extensively researched for use in patients without diabetic issues or excess body weight.

The rampant off-label use of a diabetic issues drug brings back again memories of the Mediator scandal in France. The drug was commonly recommended as an hunger suppressant and for excess weight loss until it was linked to deadly heart difficulties and pulled from the French market place in 2009.

Ozempic was not accredited for weight decline, but in 2021 the Fda permitted semaglutide, its active ingredient, less than the manufacturer identify Wegovy for persistent fat administration in older people with obesity or overweight with at least one linked problem – these as higher blood pressure, Kind 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

The US internet marketing authorisation specifies that Wegovy carries warnings for “inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), gallbladder complications (together with gallstones), low blood sugar, acute kidney injuries, diabetic retinopathy (damage to the eye’s retina), enhanced coronary heart level and suicidal conduct or thinking”.

With regards to Ozempic, the US Nationwide Library of Medication warns that the injectable drug “may boost the danger that you will establish tumours of the thyroid gland, such as medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) which is a style of thyroid most cancers. Laboratory animals who have been supplied semaglutide produced tumours, but it is not recognized if this medication raises the danger of tumours in humans”.

Novo Nordisk claimed it was up to physicians to decide on the greatest treatment method method for their sufferers, and that the drugmaker’s GLP-1 medications experienced been on the market place for more than 10 years. 

“To date, the protection facts from trials and write-up-promoting protection surveillance have not recognized any hazards that outweigh the gain of cure,” the firm reported.

A prolonged list of diverted drugs

It is not the very first time that a drug has been diverted from its intended goal to be made use of for aesthetic explanations.

In 2021, a BBC documentary warned about the harmful use of the medicated syrup apetamin by feminine influencers, this time to obtain bodyweight promptly and attain an extreme hourglass determine. The drug, which is not approved in France or the Uk, can induce drowsiness and in serious conditions can guide to liver failure or even comas.

A variety of elegance “tricks” involving unlicensed medicine or off-label makes use of have occur beneath fire in current decades. In a 2017 short article on The Discussion, two French researchers warned about the use of Homeoplasmine, a medicated ointment containing boric acid that natural beauty pundits have touted as a moisturising balm, particularly for the lips.

Using anti-haemorrhoid lotions to supposedly decrease puffiness and luggage underneath the eyes has also created headlines. These lotions ordinarily have hydrocortisone and are not suited for the skinny, fragile skin about the eyes.

In typical, overall health authorities suggest that products and solutions from the medicine cabinet really should be utilised with caution and beneath the tips of a overall health experienced.


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