How an Online Trend Led to a Drug Shortage

Trend on TikTok leads to shortage of critical type 2 diabetes medication

(RxWiki News) There's a shortage of a life-saving type 2 diabetes drug. And a TikTok trend may be to blame.

Some high-profile celebrity TikTok users have spilled the beans: They use Ozempic (semaglutide) to lose weight.

And that realization led to a huge amount of interest in getting the drug without a prescription.

The problem is that this is a once-weekly injection meant for people with type 2 diabetes. It increases insulin sensitivity, and can be a literal life saver for people with type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, many of the people who rely on Ozempic are now having a lot of trouble finding it amid a shortage. That's according to reporting by Medscape in late November of 2022.

Among the celebrities tied to off-label Ozempic use are Kim Kardashian and Elon Musk. The claim that this diabetes medication is helping people without diabetes lose weight led to some trending hashtags on TikTok.

According to Medscape, videos with the hashtag #Ozempic garnered nearly 275 million views. And videos with #OzempicWeightLoss racked up nearly 110 million views.

Semaglutide has actually been approved for weight loss in people who are obese as it slows digestion and makes you feel fuller for longer. So, the trend isn't necessarily incorrect. But here's the problem:

People who are not facing serious health issues are losing 10 pounds and using up a limited supply of the medication. Then, people who truly need the medication can't find any. That could be a life-threatening problem for some.

The other issue, of course, is that taking a prescription drug without a prescription is dangerous. Side effects and interactions with other drugs could be extremely dangerous.

If you have diabetes or want to lose weight, talk to your healthcare provider about the best available medication for your condition.

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Review Date: 
December 6, 2022