IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WROC) — Pharmacists are seeing a recent trend involving the drug Ozempic, typically prescribed for those with type 2 diabetes, being requested for another use: weight loss.
Weight loss is a noted side effect from Ozempic. However, another drug prescribed for obesity carries the same chemical found in the drug.
While Ozempic is designed for those with type 2 diabetes, a local pharmacist says he’s seeing an influx of those patients coming in who are unable to find the drug elsewhere for its intended use.
“Pretty much daily, we’re fielding phone calls from patients who don’t currently use our pharmacy who are trying to find these medications,” said Dave Seelman, owner of Irondequoit Pharmacy.
Seelman says he’s seen the demand for Ozempic go up in recent weeks.
Ozempic carries the same chemicals as the drug, Wegovy, which is prescribed for obesity.
“Initially, drugs like Ozempic were approved by the FDA for diabetes. One of the big benefits of them is they cause a substantial amount of weight loss. What we started seeing was people using it for what’s considered an off-label use, or an indication it’s not approved by the FDA,” said Seelman, “It’s created a couple of issues. One, being the shortage of supply on the market, and then the other, being challenges we’re running into with third party insurances paying for the medications.”
Dr. Susanne Miedlich, an endocrinologist with the University of Rochester Medical Center, explains the correlation between both drugs and their intentions.
“If I have a patient with obesity, but the pharmacy doesn’t have Wegovy, and they hand out Ozempic, I wouldn’t say that’s wrong. I think the problem is to get it to all people, so perhaps to kind of divide and make sure all diabetes prescriptions can be filled, that should have some kind of priority definitely,” said Dr. Miedlich.
Meantime, Seelman says a number of insurance companies require what’s called a diagnosis code to ensure a proven diagnosis before prescribing.
“Ultimately, we have to hope the manufacturers can meet the demand and increase production in order to make sure everyone gets the medication they need,” said Seelman.
Medical professionals recommend those seeking treatment for either health issue, and those with any questions, first consult directly with their primary care provider.