“Novo Nordisk Tightens Supplies of Ozempic to Manage Overwhelming Demand for Weight Loss
Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company, has announced measures to ration starter kits of Ozempic in Europe and reduce supplies of another diabetes drug, Victoza. This decision is aimed at prioritizing the production of Ozempic, which has seen a sudden surge in demand from people using it to lose weight.
Temporary Supply Reductions
According to a note to health-care professionals from Novo and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Danish drugmaker will temporarily reduce the supply of Victoza in order to increase the supply of Ozempic. This means intermittent Ozempic shortages are expected throughout 2024, while Victoza shortages are expected at least until the second quarter of 2024. The shortage of both drugs is expected to deteriorate over the remainder of the year.
Reason for the Shortages
Both Victoza and Ozempic are injections based on the substance class of GLP-1 receptor agonists. However, only Ozempic has been associated with considerable weight loss and suppression of appetite, in addition to regulating insulin production. The active ingredient in Victoza is known as liraglutide.
Implications and Recommendations
Novo Nordisk has urged doctors to refrain from starting new patients on Victoza until at least Q2 2024 when supply is expected to normalize. Additionally, they have decided to limit the supply of the 0.25-mg starting dose of Ozempic to prioritize patients already on the weekly therapy over prospective new patients.
Scramble for Ozempic
In a sign of Europe’s scramble for Ozempic, Germany’s drugs regulator is considering banning Ozempic exports, and several EU members such as France and Austria have already imposed similar measures. While Novo Nordisk has launched Wegovy in some European countries, production bottlenecks have limited its availability, which continues to fuel the demand for Ozempic.
The shortage of Ozempic and Victoza in Europe raises concerns about the prioritization of drugs based on commercial demand rather than medical necessity. The decision to ration supplies and prioritize the production of Ozempic may hinder access for diabetic patients who require Victoza, and the temporary measures put in place may have long-term implications for individuals relying on these medications. It also brings to light the growing demand for weight-loss drugs and the challenges in meeting this demand. The ongoing developments in the pharmaceutical industry underscore the need for sustainable solutions to ensure the availability of essential medications for all patients.”