Intermittent semaglutide availability until at least June

Matt Woodley

18/04/2023 4:46:15 PM

Supply issues will remain while the medicine’s sponsor ‘continues to build stable stock supplies over coming weeks and months’.

Ozempic packets.
Semaglutide supplies in Australia will be limited until at least June 2023.

Patients whose diabetes is being managed with the support of semaglutide (sold as Ozempic) are likely to again encounter issues accessing the medication due to ongoing stock shortages.
As reported by the Australian Journal of Pharmacy, Novo Nordisk, the company that developed and supplies the drug, updated its website earlier this month to confirm the continued supply challenges.
‘Ozempic stocks are available in Australia; however, there will be limited and intermittent availability until June 2023,’ the statement reads.
‘Novo Nordisk continues to build stable stock supplies over coming weeks and months … [and] doctors should be prioritising Ozempic for patients living with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.’
Semaglutide supplies in Australia have been under strain since May 2022, when the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) first warned against off-label prescribing of the drug for obesity management.
The approval of Wegovy, a weight loss drug that contains a higher dose of semaglutide, by the US Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency, also appears to have added pressure on global supply chains.
According to a recent company announcement, Novo Nordisk has nearly doubled its growth expectations for 2023, due to strong sales ‘primarily reflecting Wegovy prescription trends in the first quarter and higher full-year expectations for sales of Wegovy in the US’.
While financial results for this quarter are not due until next month, the most recent quarterly update shows that the company’s obesity care sales grew by 101% last year, even before all Wegovy dose strengths were made available again in the US in December 2022.
When approached, a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk declined to provide additional context for the semaglutide shortage in Australia, other than to say that ‘we continue to receive regular shipments of Ozempic, but it takes time to build stable stock supplies’.
Dr Gary Deed, Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Diabetes, told newsGP the latest shortage is frustrating.
‘I have not had too many issues personally with my patients accessing scripts, but anecdotally other colleagues still raise an issue of intermittent supply issues with their patients,’ he said.
‘It is frustrating as you want to commence or recommence this medication and if the supply is not secure you may need to re-start the titration step again as there can be nausea or gastrointestinal tract upset otherwise.’
Semaglutide supplies were originally expected to improve this year following the 2022 shortage, with the TGA announcing in February ‘limited’ quantities of the medication was available at some – but not all – community pharmacies.
However, the latest announcement suggests that stable supplies are still months away.
Advice on how prescribers can try to manage the ongoing supply issues is available on the TGA website.
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diabetes Novo Nordisk Ozempic semaglutide

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