November 28, 2023

As weight-loss patients and people with type 2 diabetes compete for two popular drugs that are in short supply, federal Health Minister Mark Butler has acknowledged it is a “very challenging” situation.

Mr Butler’s spokesperson said after a sudden spike in demand caused by a global shortage of Ozempic and Trulicity, the government was working to improve access.

People with type 2 diabetes who usually use the weekly injectables have faced patchy supply for months, with pharmacists now saying their fridges are bare.

The shortage has been driven by off-label usage of Ozempic for the management of obesity, the minister’s spokesperson confirmed.

close up of diabetes drug Trulicity
The shortage of Ozempic has led to a shortage of the only other approved drug in its class, Trulicity.(ABC Newcastle: Bridget Murphy)

That, in turn, has caused shortages in the only other similar drug approved for use in Australia, Trulicity.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved supply of overseas alternatives for both medicines to reduce impact, according to the minister.

The TGA has been working with drug makers to constrain stock and has encouraged prescribers to prioritise patients with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes patients to be prioritised

Hunter GP Association secretary Lee Fong said it was a real worry that patients with type 2 diabetes were unable get their hands on important medications, such as Ozempic or Trulicity.

For many diabetics, these medicines have been a game changer, managing blood sugar levels with a weekly injection.

“Of course, it would be great if there was enough of these medications to treat everyone.

“But until that happens we support the position of the TGA, which is that the prescribing and dispensing of Ozempic should be prioritised for diabetics.”


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