Diabetes patients struggle in Tennessee to find Ozempic amid unintended use for weight loss

Pharmacist Shawn Pruitt
Posted at 5:31 PM, Feb 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-03 20:37:08-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A drug meant to improve blood sugar is being used for weight loss, and now some diabetes patients are struggling to find it.

Looking everywhere for a medication that's out of stock can be stressful. That's what some type 2 diabetes patients are dealing with while trying to find the drug Ozempic.

"I just think it’s horrible having experienced it with a different medication. It’s just incredibly frustrating, and it’s a life-saving drug, so maybe we could use it the way it was intended?" Donna Weth said.

It turns out Ozempic helps people drop the pounds. Some call it a "secret celebrity weight loss drug."

"I’ve heard a lot of people been talking about it, getting it to lose weight and makes them lose weight. I don’t know the need to get it, if you’re not a diabetic why would you take something away from the ones who really need it just for weight loss benefit?” Catrice Smith said.

The buzz has caused supply disruptions.

"And the supply has been kinda spotty, so one week you may have a particular strength, and the next week you may be out, and then the other strengths that were out may come in," Dr. Shawn Pruitt said.

At Pruitt's Discount Pharmacy on Dickerson Pike, Pruitt has been trying to help patients find it.

"Even spoken with an insurance company, and they’re going to see if it is going to be covered for weight loss since it is an off-label use," Pruitt said. "Right now it’s kind of hitting everybody, and it’s a nationwide phenomenon."

He said they’ve received calls from as far away as Houston, Texas, from people wondering if they have the drug in stock.

Off-camera, NewsChannel 5 talked to type 2 diabetes patients who had to drive to several pharmacies to find Ozempic in the mid-state.

"It’s a shortage, so now the people that actually need it for health reasons can’t get it," Smith said. "That’s pretty sad,"

Until supplies improve, Pruitt said patients should ask their doctor about alternatives.

Ozempic is not technically FDA-approved for weight loss yet.

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