In recent months, there has been a shortage of a drug called Ozempic®. This medication is prescribed for those with Type-2 diabetes to help regulate insulin levels in the body. And while a limited quantity of Ozempic may not mean much to some of us, if you're a person with diabetes, it can be life-threatening. 


If you’re on various social media platforms, such as TikTok, you may have heard about the reason for this shortage. Global supply chain issues and Ozempic’s highly coveted side effect, weight loss, have each contributed to this healthcare fiasco. 


While there’s a big buzz about the lack of availability, it can be challenging to differentiate what’s fact and fiction. The team at Medial West discusses all you need to know about Ozempic, the shortage, and what to do if you’re a person with diabetes currently taking Ozempic to keep you informed and healthy in 2023. 

What Is Ozempic?

It may seem out of the ordinary that a diabetic medication has gone viral on social media, but Ozempic certainly has. Semaglutide, sold under brand names like Ozempic, is prescribed for those with diabetes and mimics a hormone that regulates insulin. Without insulin, the cells of those with diabetes don’t know when to break down sugars. This leads to sugars circulating in the bloodstream much longer than necessary, causing high blood sugar. 


Immediate effects of high blood sugar include blurred vision, fatigue, and headaches. And in the long term, the results can be severe. Without medication, people with diabetes can suffer from heart disease, kidney disease, hearing loss, stroke, and other life-changing health conditions. Under normal circumstances, there are various medications available to help people with diabetes regulate their blood sugar, such as Ozempic. 

How Does Ozempic Work?

Ozempic works in three ways to lower blood sugar. Beyond helping your pancreas produce more insulin, Ozempic also regulates the liver’s production and secretion of sugar and slows down food leaving your stomach. All these functions allow people with diabetes to maintain regular blood sugar levels. Typically, Ozempic is administered weekly, with a gradual dose escalation as needed. But lately, that simple weekly dosage has become harder and harder to ensure.

Why Is There an Ozempic Shortage?

The Ozempic manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, sells the same drug at a higher dose called Wegovy®. Wegovy is an FDA-approved treatment for obesity and works by slowing down the emptying of the stomach, which can lead to people feeling fuller, faster, and longer. 


While Wegovy is safe for those with obesity, this medication has become popular because of allegations of celebrities dropping a great deal of weight with off-label prescriptions of Ozempic. However, there aren’t studies on the weight loss effects of Ozempic for those already at a healthy weight, and UAB Medical West strongly urges everyone only to use Ozempic for its FDA-approved uses. 


In recent months, there’s also been a shortage of Wegovy due to its rising popularity for weight loss. In response to these celebrity rumors, people are getting doctors to write them off-label prescriptions for Ozempic since they can’t get their hands on Wegovy.  In addition to the shortage of Wegovy, Ozempic is often less expensive and is more likely to be covered by insurance. But, this surge of demand for Ozempic, coupled with supply chain issues, has made it difficult for some people with diabetes to get the medication they need to survive.

What Should I Do If I’m Currently Ozempic for Diabetes?

We understand it can be extremely frustrating if you’re a person with diabetes, or obesity, who can’t get the medication you need and deserve. If you’re experiencing shortages at your pharmacy or are concerned about potential shortages near you, we recommend you speak with your healthcare provider.


Switching from medication to medication can negatively impact your blood sugar levels, so you’ll want to limit medication changes as much as possible. To find a way forward in these difficult times, discuss a safe and suitable treatment plan with your doctor or contact the expert healthcare providers at UAB Medical West today. 

Get the Treatment You Deserve at UAB Medical West

If you're taking Ozempic, we understand how challenging it can be to navigate this shortage. We hope you’ve learned more about Ozempic and why a shortage may affect your prescription. 


If you have any questions about Ozempic or want to speak with someone about a new diabetic medication, don’t hesitate to contact our team at UAB Medical West today. Our endocrinologists are experts in helping those with diabetes live happy, healthy lives. 

The Experts You Can Trust in Birmingham, AL: UAB Medical West

Are you worried about the Ozempic shortage? Talk to a specialist today! UAB Medical West proudly serves Birmingham, AL, and surrounding areas, including Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, Vance, and others. Schedule an appointment and get care for diabetes by calling (205) 481-7000 today or contacting us online.