Use of drugs for weight loss, such as Wegovy, cause supply shortage

Dramatic stories about weight loss seem to be everywhere on social media. Jennifer Huber, who shared her own story online, has lost more than 50 pounds in five months after starting Mounjaro, an injectable drug approved to treat her Type 2 diabetes. 

“It’s this miracle,” Huber said. “I’ve got to pinch myself sometimes to say, is this real?” 

The drug now has an Food and Drug Administration Fast Track designation as a tool for weight loss. 

Mounjaro belongs to a class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists that includes Saxenda and Wegovy, which are already FDA-approved for weight loss in people who are either overweight with at least one weight-related medical problem or obese. 

Dr. Amanda Velazquez, director of obesity medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said the drugs have been life changing for her patients. 

“The medications help by making the gut feel that it is fuller, so fullness signals go to the brain,” Velazquez said. 

It also helps with blood sugar regulation, she said. 

However, the popularity of the drugs for weight loss is causing shortages for people who need them for other health issues. 

“Someone who may only need to lose about five pounds most likely does not qualify for this,” Velazquez said in regards to whether people who don’t qualify per the criteria should take these medications. 

Wegovy has a higher dose of the same active ingredient used in a diabetes drug called Ozempic, which is not approved for weight loss. Both are so popular that some doses are in short supply, which is troubling for people using Ozempic to treat diabetes. 

Novo Nordisk, the maker of the drugs, says it’s making “short and long-term investments” to help with Ozempic supply disruptions. While it expects to have “all dose strengths of Wegovy available in December,” health care providers are being asked “to continue to hold off” starting new patients on the drug. 

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