Home Health and Fitness Weight loss drugs: As the market soars, people with diabetes pay the price

Weight loss drugs: As the market soars, people with diabetes pay the price

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Ozempic, the drug Jeremy Mitchell takes to manage his diabetes, has become a hot new weight-loss craze, and now he’s having trouble finding it.

Mitchell, 39, of Eldorado, Kansas, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2020.

It runs in his family. His father was a double leg amputee and died last month at the age of 62 from complications of diabetes.

“It concerns me,” Mitchell said. “I have three of her children and would love to see her grandchildren grow up. For me, Ozempic has helped me manage my blood sugar levels.”

Jeremy Mitchell and family

When Mitchell was diagnosed, his A1C (a long-term measure of glycemic control) was a whopping 10%.

After finding out I had diabetes, I lost about 50 pounds through diet and exercise. But when he got a less active job, he found he couldn’t keep it up. Some of his weight crept up.

In May, his doctor prescribed him Ozempic, which helped him lose about 20 pounds. His A1C dropped to his 6.8%. This is still within the diabetic range, but is very close to normal at less than 5.7%.

When Mitchell recently went to pick up a refill, an automated message informed him that there would be a delay in picking up the standard 1-milligram injection pen due to nationwide inventory shortages. The other three pharmacies in town told him the same.

He was able to get his doctor to write a prescription for a lower dose, but that meant he had to double the injections. confused. The pharmacy then said he would have to pay $1,000 to receive two weeks’ supply. His out-of-pocket is typically $5.

After negotiating with the insurance company, Mitchell was able to cover the pen, but it’s doubling the shot so it’s half as long as normal.

I don’t know what will happen if I lose this pen.

All this means hours of extra work to get what should be a regular medication refill. An Internet search found stories of celebrities using the drug for weight loss.

“At 39, my goal is to delay becoming insulin dependent as long as possible. I don’t want to end up like my father,” he said.

“I think I’m just mad at people who use this, not just celebrities, especially because I know there’s a lack of that information out there,” he said.

Every winter, millions of Americans end the year with tighter waistbands, leading to another annual ritual: New Year’s vows to lose weight.

Nearly 1 in 4 Americans have pledged to live healthier by 2022, making it the number one New Year’s resolution. 1 in 5 people say they want to lose weight According to the Consumer Data website Statista.com.

Despite these good intentions, the weight continues to pile up. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2017 to 2020, more than 2 of her 5 Americans were classified as obese with a BMI greater than 30, and 10 from 1999 to 2000. increased by more than

Until recently, those struggling to slim down could only count on limited help from the medicine cabinet.

three tablets Clinical trials approved by the US Food and Drug Administration have resulted in an average weight loss of approximately 5% to 10% of total body weight.

2014 ushered in a new era for Saxenda (liraglutide). Taken as a daily injection, it was the first in a class of drugs developed to treat diabetes and received FDA weight loss approval.

It belongs to a relatively new family of drugs that mimic the effects of an appetite-regulating hormone called GLP-1. These drugs work by stimulating the release of insulin, which helps lower blood sugar levels. It also slows down the passage of food through the intestine.

Mitchell said of the GLP-1 agonist he takes, Ozempic: “You don’t want to eat.”

Ozempic, or semaglutide, a more potent cousin of liraglutide. Instead of daily injections, semaglutide is administered to him once a week. The FDA approved it for diabetes management under the brand name Ozempic in 2017 and Wegovy for weight loss in 2021.

Wegovy became a runaway hit with celebrity references and social media posts showing surprising changes before and after. Elon Musk on Twitter Wegovy credited due to his own recent weight loss.

Studies suggest that the drug may help reduce an average of 10% to 15% of starting weight.

But shortly after Novo Nordisk launched Wegovy, Wegovy ran into shortfalls when the Brussels-based company that commissioned it to fill the syringes was flagged by the FDA over quality issues. Drug production has stopped, and shortages that should have been resolved this year continue.

Wegovy should be taken both to lose weight and to maintain it. Studies show that the weight lost can be regained when people stop using it.

“We had many patients who started Wegovy but were not able to continue,” said Kimberly Gudzune, M.D., medical director of the American College of Obesity Medicine.

“So, as a result of the unavailability of Wegovy, many doctors started prescribing Ozempic off-label for the treatment of obesity,” she said.

As a result, many of these injectable GLP-1 mimetics are currently in short supply.

In addition to Ozempic, FDA list Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro, or as missing tirzepatide, some strengths Trulicity, or the drug dulaglutide.

“It’s really snowballed,” Gazoon said, adding that diabetics like Jeremy Mitchell are currently struggling to find medication.

Gudzune, who also treats diabetics, said the shortage changed her practice. She used to send her prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy. This is quick and reduces errors. But she can’t do that because of these injections.

“We, as a group, had to go back to actually giving people paper prescriptions because they were actually calling and taking them from pharmacy to pharmacy and actually having the medicine.” Because we can find a place, we can distribute it,” she said.

The shortage is especially acute for low-income people who don’t always have the means or time to visit or make phone calls to many pharmacies to find medicine, Gudzune said.

Novo Nordisk, which manufactures both Ozempic and Wegovy, said in a statement that some doses of Ozempic had been cut short due to “a combination of incredible demand and overall global supply constraints.” supply disruption is occurring.

While we recognize that some healthcare providers may prescribe Ozempic off-label to people who want to lose weight, the company does not “promote, suggest, or promote off-label use of our medicines. I don’t encourage it.”

As for Wegovy, Novo Nordisk said it has taken steps to increase production. In early 2023 he plans to add a second contract manufacturing organization. The current syringe filling machine is back in production and will be adding his second site later this year.

Novo Nordisk said it expects Wegovy in all doses to be available by the end of the year.

“We are asking healthcare providers to hold off new patient initiations on Wegovy until we see more widespread availability at the pharmacy level,” said Nicole Araujo, senior manager of corporate communications. wrote in an e-mail.

Gazune said she’s following that guidance.

“The excitement about these drugs is kind of a double-edged sword right now, but I’m glad people are excited and feel there are really meaningful treatment options for obesity,” she said. I got

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