Two-Week Outage of Diabetes Drug Ozempic: Patients Urged to Check Supplies

Patients using the injectable medication for type 2 diabetes, Ozempic, at a strength of one milligram, will experience a two-week outage. Patients can replace it with other medicines. The Deputy Minister of Health, Jakub Dvořáček, announced that the prescription of this drug for the treatment of obesity would be limited.

According to Dvořáček, the originally anticipated delivery outage was supposed to last for several months. However, he stated that deliveries had already been promised for the week of April 17, in a sufficient amount to satisfy Czech patients. He added that most patients have a three-month supply at home, so there is no need to go to pharmacies and stock up.

The drug shortage is due to a significant increase in demand, according to David Kolář, the director of the Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry, whose member is also the drug’s manufacturer, Novo Nordisk.

Doctors can resolve the situation by substituting another drug, such as a tablet, according to the scientific secretary of the Czech Diabetological Society, Jan Šoupal. “Patients should check their supplies and deal with it with their doctor well in advance,” said Šoupal. He estimated that there were thousands of patients affected.

The State Institute for Drug Control’s (SÚKL) director, Irena Storová, said that consumption had increased recently. “There is reason to believe it is also prescribed for other indications,” she said. Therefore, the ministry will temporarily prohibit its prescription for patients other than people with diabetes during the shortage, according to Dvořáček. The expert society will prepare the recommendation for doctors who prescribe it this way, according to Šoupal. The ministry also banned the export of the drug.

According to AIFP, the increased global consumption of the drug for off-label use, such as regulating body weight, is also a reason for the shortage. “The outage (…) was caused by a significant global increase in patient demand, expected to continue throughout 2023. The drug’s off-label use particularly threatens the product’s availability,” said Kolář.

The Czech Republic has been dealing with drug shortages recently, which doctors and pharmacists say are worse than before. The reasons for the needs, according to previous statements by the ministry, are various, ranging from problems with packaging production to issues with the production of active substances or global transportation or manufacturers’ planning based on consumption in the previous year.