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Social media ‘weight loss’ trend causes Ozempic shortage

The Ozempic injection, which keeps blood sugar levels in check for patients with Type 2 diabetes, has been in shortage for months following tenuous claims online that celebrities are using it to lose weight.

In 2022, social media inspired many of the ways we sought to improve our wellbeing – but not always for the better.

Some began self-diagnosing themselves after being bombarded with mental health content on TikTok.

Others focused perhaps too much on body image amid the ‘heroin chic’ resurgence and relentless influx of ‘what I eat in a day’ videos.

Most notably, discourse about weight-loss drugs spread like wildfire online.

According to the database maintained by the US Food and Drug Administration, Ozempic is facing shortages worldwide, and has been for months.

The Ozempic injection regulates blood sugar levels and insulin by mimicking a hormone produced in the gut called GLP-1. It is normally prescribed to adults suffering from Type 2 diabetes.

However, following unfounded speculation from plastic surgeons that it’s what Kim Kardashian used to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s dress at last year’s Met Gala, the medication earned itself a top spot on TikTok’s For You Page.

Today, the Ozempic hashtag has over 375 million views, Variety has touted it as ‘Hollywood’s worst kept secret,’ Elon Musk has tweeted about it, and demand is exceeding supply.

‘Patients are calling us and already know exactly what medication they want to try,’ says Dr Michael Glickman, who started a US medical practice catering towards those with obesity.

‘They know what it’s called, they know what it does, and they’re asking for it specifically before anything else.’

@dr.90210 Is #Ozempic #KimKardashian’s secret #weightlossdrug? #OzempicForWeightLoss #OzempicWeightLoss #KimK #Kardashian #KimKardashianWest #KimKardashianWeightLoss #Kardashians #PlasticSurgerySecrets #CelebPlasticSurgery #CelebSurgery #CelebrityPlasticSurgery #CelebrityPlasticSurgeon #WeightLossHacks #HealthyDiet #WeightLossSecretsOfTikTok #KKW #KimKardashianTransformation #PlasticSurgeonsOfTikTok #PlasticSurgeonReacts #PlasticSurgeonExplains #SkinnyLegend ♬ Hip Hop Background(814204) – Pavel

As he explains, in addition to helping diabetics manage their condition, Ozempic often leads to a dramatic shedding of pounds because one of its side-effects is appetite suppression.

This can be good for diabetics who, due to their complex endocrine system, sometimes don’t feel fullness when eating.

But not so good for those flying blind and taking Ozempic as a quick silhouette-reducing fix, for whom it can also potentially cause thyroid tumours, pancreatitis, and kidney failure.

Regardless, ever since news of this ‘miracle diet drug’ broke on social media, people who don’t meet the indications for use have been scrambling to get their hands on it.

This means that those who truly need Ozempic are having trouble filling their prescriptions and are consequently at higher risk for things like heart attacks, infections, disability, and even death.

@madisonpeoples_1 173.3 > 122 ! 1 year on Ozempic! #ozempic #ozempicweightloss #glp1 #weightloss ♬ Lady Gaga Paparazzivmaperformance – ladygaga

And while alternative medication can be an option, it can come with new hurdles, including insurance coverage and closer monitoring in case it doesn’t work as well.

Adding yet another layer to managing an already complicated and costly chronic illness, the Ozempic drought is most rampant in Australia, where the viral sensation turned scarce resource won’t be available until at least March.

Australian authorities have called on health professionals to stop initiating new prescriptions of Ozempic and to contact diabetic patients affected by the shortage to switch them to alternative treatments. They have also issued warnings to influencers promoting it online.

‘My situation is just the tip of the iceberg,’ a diabetic patient called Chloe told Vice.

‘It scares me to think how many more people in the UK will have their Ozempic supply compromised with no pre-warning – by those without diabetes or obesity – trying to get thin.’


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