According to reports, a prescription drug intended to help people with diabetes and help with long-term weight management is experiencing shortages because of its popularization as a weight loss drug on TikTok.
Ozempic, which costs between $1,200 and $1,500, was popularized by celebrities on the app with #Ozempicweightloss gaining more than 85 million views and #ozempic gaining 227 million views as of Oct. 20.
But the social media-spurred shortages have created problems for people who need the medication to ensure their bodies can release insulin to control diabetes.
“We’re constantly getting calls from patients who can’t find it,” Jonathan Fialkow, MD, chief population health officer for Coral Gables-based Baptist Health South Florida and chief of cardiology at Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute, said in a report on the health system’s website. “The pharmacies are out of it, and we’re jumping through hoops to have them be able to continue on the medication.”
Research has also shown that those who are prescribed the medication and stop using it can regain weight, especially if they didn’t make any lifestyle changes, Baptist Health said.
The FDA approved Ozempic in 2017 for use in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. It signals the pancreas to create more insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels and lower a hormone that raises sugar levels. Though it can result in weight loss, the drug hasn’t been approved for that purpose.
“If you lose weight rapidly and you don’t start monitoring then you could pass out and break your hip or crack your head,” Dr. Fialkow said. “These medications need to be monitored by your doctor.”
In addition, the most serious risks of Ozempic may not be well known because its side effects have not been sufficiently studied in a wider population.