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Concerns are growing about diabetes drug Ozempic

Concerns are growing about diabetes drug Ozempic

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Growing concern about the diabetes drug Ozempic that’s now in short supply because people are taking it to lose weight. It’s a trend fueled by social media that doctors say is causing dangerous side effects.

Ozempic has become a Hollywood favorite touted by celebrities for quick weight loss. But doctors say it can be harmful without medical supervision.

It’s a medication meant to improve blood sugar in adults with Type 2 diabetes, but some pharmacies are in short supply of the drug because healthy people are taking it to lose weight.

Social media is flooded with stories of dramatic weight loss.

“If they stop the drug, they will gain the weight back and then some,”  Dr. Nancy Rahnama, an obesity specialist, said.

Doctors say using the drug for unintended purposes can come with some serious risks.

“G.I. side effects, kidney issues, gallstone issues,” Dr. Nancy said.

Ozempic, that’s a weekly self-injection, lowers blood sugar by helping the pancreas make insulin and it mimics a natural hormone that helps regulate appetite.

And for people living with diabetes, there’s a growing concern.

“There is a lot of anxiety in the community right now over the Ozempic shortage,” Zoe Witt, a person living with diabetes, said.

Even though it’s not specifically approved to treat obesity, doctors can prescribe the diabetes drug to treat other conditions.

But insurance doesn’t cover it for other uses. So it’s $1,200 out of pocket for a one-month supply.

“Ozempic was hard for diabetics to get even before this happened,” Witt said. “It was hard to get approved by insurance. So then to see all these people, essentially anyone who has the money get it instantaneously, it’s very frustrating.”

The maker of Ozempic says it’s experiencing “intermittent supply disruptions” that will persist through mid-March and that it’s working to keep up with the incredible demand.