Ozempic has been out of stock for the last few weeks. Ozempic shortage has mainly been noticed by patients using 1mg of this medication. What is the latest news on the Ozempic shortage?
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a brand name for a pre-filled pen containing a drug called semaglutide. Ozempic is licensed for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes alongside diet and exercise:
- As a single drug therapy when metformin is not appropriate, for example, due to intolerance (side effects) or contraindications (patient unable to metformin).
- As a part of combination therapy (two or more drugs) for the treatment of diabetes.
Ozempic is usually not considered as first or second-line treatment of type 2 diabetes. A NICE guide on the management of type 2 diabetes always recommends the use of metformin or metformin alternative drugs. Despite its license, Ozempic is not recommended as one of the main treatment options for type 2 diabetes in the NICE guidelines of type 2 diabetes management. One contributing factor is the very high price tag of this medicine as compared to most oral forms of antidiabetic medicines.
How popular is Ozempic?
In the last 12 months, 554,182 prescriptions were issued for Ozempic generating a cost of over £45mln. In comparison, metformin, which is the most commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, was prescribed 23,734,073 at a total cost of £78,926,384.
Ozempic as a pre-filled pen at the following strengths:
- Ozempic 1mg
- Ozempic 0.5mg
- Ozempic 0.25mg
Newly prescribed patients would most likely be prescribed Ozempic 0.25mg (lowest strength of Ozempic) and moved into higher strength during the treatment.
Ozempic shortage: which pen(s) are out of stock?
Ozempic 1mg pen is mainly affected by the shortage. Lower strengths of Ozempic pens 0.25mg and 0.5mg had short intermediate supply problems but recently, both pens have been available from pharmaceutical wholesalers.
Ozempic shortage: when is the 1mg pen back in stock?
Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and various NHS teams send out different alerts and updates on medicines which are out of stock. At the end of September, DHSC issued the following supply notification about the Ozempic shortage (PSNC, 2022):
- Ozempic® 1mg solution for injection is out of stock until the week commencing 17th October 2022. After that, supply will only be available for existing patients until January 2023.
- Ozempic® 0.5mg solution for injection remains available but can only support a partial uplift in demand.
Ozempic 1mg came back in stock the week commencing 17th of October, however, just after a couple of days, it went out of stock.
The newest update regarding Ozempic 1mg availability comes from Medicines Optimisation Team:
Ozempic® (Semaglutide) 1mg/0.74ml solution for injection 3ml pre-filled pens are currently out of stock and have an anticipated re-supply date of 31st January 2023.
Is Ozempic discontinued?
Ozempic is not discontinued. Shortage of Ozempic is caused by overprescribing Ozempic for weight loss (in the UK and outside the UK), for which Ozempic is not licensed.
Semaglutide, the active ingredient found in Ozempic reduces body weight, and body fat by lowering energy intake and by reducing appetite (eMC, 2022).
What are Ozempic alternative medicines?
As previously discussed, Ozempic comes in three different strengths. GPs were advised against prescribing 2×0.5mg to meet the 1mg dose to minimise the shortage of 0.5mg pens. GPs should rather consider reducing the dose to 0.5mg temporarily.
Ozempic alternative drugs (glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists)
- Rybelsus tablets (active ingredient: semaglutide): Rybelsus tablets come in different strengths. Rybelsus tablets come in 3mg, 7mg and 14mg strengths.
- Trulicity pre-filled pen for injection (active ingredient: Dulaglutide). Supply of Trulicity pens is limited until the end of January 2023.
- Victoza pre-filled pen for injection (active ingredient: liraglutide)
- Byetta pre-filled pen for injection (active ingredient: exenatide)
- Bydureon pre-filled pen for injection (active ingredient: exenatide)
- Lyxumia pre-filled pens (active ingredient: lixisenatide)
eMC (2022). SmPC: Ozempic 0.5 mg solution for injection in a pre-filled pen. Available at: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/9750/smpc Accessed on 22/10/2022
PSNC (2022). Medicine Supply Notification: Semaglutide (Ozempic®) 1mg/0.74ml solution for injection 3ml pre-filled disposable device. Available at: https://psnc.org.uk/our-news/medicine-supply-notification-semaglutide-ozempic-1mg-0-74ml-solution-for-injection-3ml-pre-filled-disposable-device/ Accessed on 19/10/2022