TikTok trend is driving off-label use of essential type 2 diabetes drug

People with type 2 diabetes are still missing their essential medicine as a TikTok trend is promoting its off-label use as a miraculous weight loss solution.

TikTok trend is driving off-label use of essential type 2 diabetes drug

Australia has been hit by a nationwide shortage of Ozempic (semaglutide), a once-weekly injectable drug approved only for people with type 2 diabetes when combined with diet and exercise.

But primary care physicians and health professionals have prescribed the drug off-label to thousands of weight-loss hopeful people across the country.

These people have documented their success on TikTok with hashtags like #ozempicjourney.

Camera IconTikTok users talk about their weight loss. Provided Credit: Provided Camera Icon The drug is approved for people with diabetes. Delivered Credit: Delivered

“In three weeks, I went down a full size of clothing without trying to diet,” said one.

“I have lost 25 kg in 4 months. And now there is a national deficit,” said another.

Responding to someone who asked how Ozempic was prescribed for weight loss when it was only approved for type 2 diabetes, one commenter said: “primary use is for people with diabetes for a subsidy, but is used off-label for weight loss. The doctor can prescribe it. I had no problem getting it and don’t have diabetes.”

Two weeks ago, the Therapeutic Goods Administration released a strong joint statement on the shortage of Ozempic, telling health professionals to prescribe and dispense it only for its approved use.

The statement, in conjunction with nine other health authorities, including the Australian Medical Association, said essential and ongoing care for people with type 2 diabetes should be prioritized.

It warned individuals who did not have type 2 diabetes that their Ozempic prescription may not be filled.

The Dutch pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk manufacturer, has indicated sufficient supplies for the approved use of Ozempic; the “recent significant prescribing” for “obesity management” has led to shortages.

People with type 2 diabetes have been advised to stick to their usual pharmacy and fill their script “as early as possible.”

Camera icon Its use as a weight-loss aid has led to a shortage. Credit provided: TikTokCamera IconPeople use the drug to lose “just a few pounds.” Delivered Credit: Delivered

Ashleigh Rae, who has type 2 diabetes, told NCA NewsWire earlier this month that being unable to reach Ozempic had “wrought havoc on her body” after the pharmacist she had been with since she was a child no longer had it.

“Because Ozempic changes the way you digest food when you suddenly have withdrawal symptoms from it, your body has to revert to what it was before,” she said.

“Without it, your blood sugar levels go a little crazy, meaning the rest of your diabetes can be hard to manage.

“I went from ordering from my pharmacist in Ozempic because it was so new and nobody was working on it to suddenly there’s no stock anywhere in Australia within the space of one script.”

Making it clear that her frustration lay with the GPs for prescribing it off-label, Ms. Rae said: “It’s frustrating when we hear stories of people using it to lose just a few pounds”.

“Taking it because you want to lose a little bit of weight, like a few pounds, versus people who need it for serious weight problems and diabetes is very different.”

Lori J. Kile
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