Health Professional’s Guide to Managing Ozempic Stock Shortage in Quebec

2023-11-18 10:50:44

Faced with a stock shortage of the diabetes medication, Ozempic, the College of Physicians, the Order of Nurses and the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec recommend that all health professionals limit the prescription of this medication as much as possible. and turn to other options.

The situation, particularly in Quebec, is critical, underline the three orders in a joint notice sent to health professionals on Friday.

Numerous stock shortages have affected this drug in North America for several months and the manufacturer does not anticipate greater supply before the end of March 2024.

Ozempic is a medication for people with type 2 diabetes. However, its weight-loss properties have made it extremely popular with people wanting to lose weight, a use that Health Canada does not support.

Doctors, pharmacists and nurses in the province are recommended to limit the distribution of the drug, avoid prescribing Ozempic to new patients and opt for other similar drugs for a period of at least one month. Priority will be given to patients already taking the medication, we write.

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The most popular version of the drug Ozempic is injected into the abdomen. (Archive photo)

Photo : getty images/istockphoto / imyskin

The Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk markets this drug in Canada. She anticipates intermittent delays of this product through the end of March 2024 due to global supply constraints and increased demand, she wrote by email. Novo Nordisk apologizes to affected patients and invites them to contact their healthcare professional.

Not a consumer product

We need to reduce new prescriptions as much as possible [d’Ozempic], says Patrick Boudreault, director of quality of practice at the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to offer it to everyone.

He is reassuring, and believes that pharmacists are already hard at work finding alternative solutions for their patients.

However, Mr. Boudreault does not hide his annoyance at the current situation. When we have patients who have chronic illnesses, and we have to change a drug therapy that is working, it is always unpleasant, both for the patient and for the professional.

He criticizes the Ozempic distributor for continuing to advertise his product, despite stock shortages.

He also reminds that Ozempic is a medicine, and not a consumer product.

It’s no time to be worried […] but it’s not the time to stock up on Ozempic right now, it won’t be really possible anyway.

Supply challenges

Finding alternative medications may require a lot of additional work for healthcare professionals.

It is a significant workload and is complicated by the volume of Ozempic prescriptions, notes Benoit Morin, president of the Quebec Association of Pharmacist Owners. We anticipate instability in the supply chain.

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The drug Ozempic is in high demand all over the world.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Raphaël Beaumont-Drouin

Demand for this drug, approved in Canada since 2018, has exploded in recent years.

Ozempic-related spending in the country’s public drug insurance plans increased from $265 million in 2021 to $434 million in 2022, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The drug has become a social media sensation, with many people boasting about using Ozempic to lose a few pounds. Several private insurers no longer reimburse this drug to treat obesity.

Benoit Morin recalls that other medications such as Victoza can be prescribed to patients who will no longer have access to doses of Ozempic.

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