CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Many people may have seen the commercial on TV for the FDA-approved medication Ozempic.
It’s a once-weekly drug intended to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes.
“It also has a lot of efficacy for weight management as well. So, it’s also been FDA-approved for treatment of obesity,” said Dr. Janice Hwang, chief of Endocrinology & Metabolism at the UNC School of Medicine.
But recently, Ozempic has been gaining popularity on social media because people who are not considered to be diabetic or obese are using the drug to lose weight.
The hashtag #ozempic has more than 295 million views on TikTok alone. Influencers are sharing videos of their weight loss journey and dramatic results.
In a tweet, TV host Andy Cohen said, “Everyone is suddenly showing up 25 pounds lighter. What happens when they stop taking #ozempic ?????”
Dr. Hwang advises against the off-label use of Ozempic.
“They’re not designed to get someone who is normal weight down to something super thin and we don’t even know if they’re effective in dropping people’s weight down,” Hwang said. “It’s really a black box. They haven’t really been studied for that.”
Dr. Hwang encourages people to keep in mind that Ozempic is an injection, potentially life-long, that has effects on every part of the body.
“There’s active investigation right now on the effects of these medications on the brain, on the pancreas, on the liver, all these organs and you don’t really know what they could be doing if you don’t need to lose that weight,” Hwang said.
According to The Food and Drug Administration, there is currently a nationwide shortage of Ozempic due to an increase in demand. Limited supply and intermittent supply distribution will continue through January 2023.
The national shortage is creating an issue for diabetics who need prescriptions filled.
“I have many patients in my clinic who went to their pharmacy, and they just don’t have it anymore and they are told we’re not sure when we’re going to get it, they’re calling to different places,” Hwang said. “These are medications, especially for someone who has diabetes, they’re very effective as a class, and so it’s very challenging for our patients who have diabetes for sure.”