Thanks partly to folks on TikTok promoting the off-label use of the diabetes drug Ozempic for weight loss, there is now a worldwide shortage of the drug. Rumors are flying on TikTok that Ozempic is what Kim Kardashian used for her recent weight loss, and Elon Musk has gone on record stating his weight loss was due to "fasting and Wegovy" (Wegovy has the same ingredients and manufacturer as Ozempic, described below). CBS News reports:
All over TikTok, you'll see weight loss journeys with exciting claims, and stunning before-and-after pictures. Influencers are bragging about losing weight thanks to a prescription medication that's become a viral trend.
Ozempic is FDA approved for use to treat Type Two Diabetes. The medication can improve blood sugar and manage the risk of major cardiovascular events. But it's getting attention because it can also cause weight loss.
Recently, the manufacture of Ozempic, Novo Nordisk, got FDA approval for another drug, Wegovy, that has the same main ingredient as Ozempic, semaglutide. Wegovy was approved for chronic weight management in adults with obesity. But some doctors warn that the claims of weight loss are too good to be true, and the widespread off-label use of the drugs are causing shortages. CBS News explains:
"I would ask everybody to take this with a grain of salt," says Dr. Sadaf Mustafa of MedStar Health. "This medication should be used after you have a proper discussion with your provider."
Dr. Mustafa is an obesity specialist and says off-label prescriptions have gone up. That's the unapproved use of an approved drug. Right now, there is a worldwide shortage of both Ozempic and Wegovy, which is expected to last into next year.
Currently, #ozempic has over 275 million views on TikTok, and most of the Ozempic videos I watched feature women promoting the drug as the secret to their weight loss. But sprinkled among the fans are some skeptics, including Dr. Gary Motykie, who explains some of the downsides of the drug, including that it has to be injected with a needle, it doesn't result in permanent weight loss unless the person taking it also changes their diet and exercise habits, and it's expensive–it costs $170 to $350 per week. In general, he says he doesn't think medicine for weight loss is a great idea, and urges people to focus on diet and exercise instead. I'm not *that* kind of doctor, so I can't really give advice, but I'll add that it also doesn't seem like a great idea when using the drug for off-label purposes is resulting in shortages of the drug for people who actually need it for diabetes management.