Some people who need certain Type 2 diabetes drugs are scrambling to find their medications, and it could be due to the drugs’ growing popularity for weight loss.
Injectable drugs like Ozempic, with the generic name of semaglutide, and Mounjaro with its generic name tirzepatide, have been flying off shelves in pharmacies across the country.
They help curb hunger in diabetic and pre-diabetic patients to lower glucose levels. The drugs help the body release insulin and slow the emptying of the stomach to keep people full for a longer time.
KYW Medical Editor Dr. Brian McDonough said prescriptions are now being written to help people lose weight, which is not the intended FDA purpose.
"Those who are trying to help the obesity problem in the country have said, ‘Wait a minute. Even though this medication is not approved for weight loss, it’s a great side-effect of the medicine,” he said.
“Doctors are starting to say ‘Hmm ... maybe if I use this medication off-label, I get the weight loss and I can help with the blood sugar.’”
Dr. McDonough says there's nothing nefarious about doctors writing these prescriptions. They're just trying to help their patients, and leaving diabetic people without their meds is an unintended consequence.
“You've got a medication that's working for you, and all of a sudden you can't get it,” he said. “That is frustrating and a potential risk."
While the drugs work for weight loss, Dr. McDonough says people who are slightly overweight are better off monitoring calories.
“If you're using it to lose those five to 10 pounds or look better on the beach, you're putting yourself at a lot of risk,” he said.
"Some of the simple side effects may not seem like much, but if they bother you, they are things like constipation and heartburn and reflux … so all of sudden, you're eight to 10 pounds overweight and you're putting yourself in these situations just because you want to look good. That's a problem."
If you're diabetic and unable to get your medication, Dr. McDonough says it's time to talk to your doctor about generic options and similar medications.
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