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Province taking steps to prevent Ozempic shortage

In an effort to prevent a shortage, the B.C. government is looking to shore up supplies of the diabetes drug Ozempic.

Provincial officials said there isn’t currently a shortage, but one could be possible due to the number of U.S. residents getting the drug from B.C.

In January and February, 15 per cent or 15,798 of Ozempic dispenses in B.C. were sold to U.S. residents.

The average of other drugs going to Americans is 0.4 per cent.

“The purpose of procuring the drug Ozempic for British Columbia is not to turn around and export it to Americans,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix in a release.

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“It is to make sure patients in British Columbia and Canada requiring the drug to treat their Type 2 diabetes can continue to access it.”

The province is looking to change regulations, which will limit the sale of Ozempic to non-Canadian residents in case of supply issues.

Provincial officials said two B.C. pharmacies were responsible for 13,197 of the 15,798 dispenses to U.S. residents and 95 per cent of prescriptions were written by practitioners in Nova Scotia.

“The number of prescriptions emanating from one or more practitioners in Nova Scotia is concerning,” Dix said.

“As a direct result of the review of PharmaNet data, I am writing to all provincial and territorial health ministers in Canada, as well as the Minister of Health for Canada, Jean-Yves Duclos, to review and take appropriate actions.”

Another issue is Ozempic is being used as a weight loss method.

Dix said the drug isn’t approved for weight loss, but it is one of the side effects.

He said physicians prescribing and pharmacies dispensing Ozempic need to follow the product’s approved indication.

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