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Dangerous Weight Loss Trend On TikTok Causes Global Shortage Of This Diabetes Drug

Ozempic is an injectable drug that has a secondary effect on appetite control.
Cover image soure: Pexels | Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich
Cover image soure: Pexels | Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich

A popular type-2 diabetes drug is facing a global shortage following a surge in demand due to its ability to help in weight loss. As per reports, the demand has been primarily fuelled by a TikTok trend where users shared their weight loss journey using the drug Ozempic, which is being promoted as an injectable aid that helps reduce appetite and lose weight by doing nothing. The #ozempic on TikTok has over 1.3 billion views on the platform. Ozempic comes with an expensive price tag averaging $1,000.

Ozempic is an injectable drug produced by the Danish company Novo Nordisk. It helps regulate blood sugar levels and insulin. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017 and has been in short supply in the U.S. since 2022, as per NBC. The drug contains semaglutide, which mimics a hormone that stimulates the pancreas to release insulin when blood sugar levels rise and plays a secondary role in appetite control. It is used as a once-weekly injection to control blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. 

Photo illustration of boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic | Getty Images | Photo illustration by Mario Tama
Photo illustration of boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic | Getty Images | Photo illustration by Mario Tama

While weight loss is a known side effect in diabetic patients who are on semaglutide drugs, Ozempic is not prescribed for weight loss purposes only. There is another version of semaglutide called Wegovy, which is used as a weight management injection.

The trend started on TikTok with users showing off their weight loss journey with the drug. People have shared several video testimonies including before and after pictures of the weight loss.

Even Kim Kardashian was rumored to have used the drug to wear the Marilyn Monroe’s dress for the Met Gala (a claim she has denied) and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also tweeted about being influenced to use the drug.


This has led to the followers of these users also opting for the drug without conducting proper research on the usage of the drug. The rise of the trend has coincided with the high demand for the drug resulting in its global shortage. Despite the company specifically stating it is not for weight loss, people are using it.

As per the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the maker of the drug, Novo Nordisk has all Ozempic presentations on intermittent backorder. It is releasing the stock as it becomes available.

Further, France's drug safety agency has stated that it is ramping up surveillance measures to ensure the sale and the use of Ozempic are limited to patients with type 2 diabetes.

There is also a shortage of Ozempic in Australia that is expected to continue to disrupt supply for another "few months" as per Euronews. Authorities in Australia and the UK have also issued warnings to influencers promoting these drugs.

As for the U.S., the shortage is expected to last through March 2023, as per NBC. Thus, it has become harder to obtain for patients who need it. The shortage has consequences not only for patients with diabetes who need to follow their treatment daily but also for the people who are turning to these drugs exclusively for weight loss.

Regarding the shortage, Novo Nordisk has stated that it is investing $2.3 billion to expand its production capacity. 


Ozempic’s official website states that the drug is proven to improve blood sugar in adult Type 2 Diabetes patients, who use the drug along with diet and exercise. It claims that the drug can reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack, or death. However, the website also cautions that medicine could have serious side effects like possible thyroid tumors, including cancer.


Further, the European Medicines Agency state that nausea, diarrhoea and hypoglycaemia are "very common" side effects of the drug.