Some diabetes patients are struggling to get their hands on drugs crucial to their health because they contain the same active ingredient as a sought-after weight-loss drug that is not yet sold in Israel, it was reported on Tuesday.
Ozempic, a drug used by diabetics to regulate blood sugar, contains semaglutide, which can be used for weight loss, but at a lower dose than Wegovy, an injectable obesity drug that can help its user lose 15 % of its body weight after one year. long-term treatment but will not be available in Israel until early 2023.
Thousands of potential Wegovy customers therefore used Ozempic as a substitute, causing supplies to run out and preventing some pharmacies from supplying the drug to diabetic patients, Channel 12 reported.
“Last week I was forced to stop 10 patients on Ozempic because they couldn’t get the medicine, and give them a different medicine which I think is less good,” said Dr. Ruthie Gorev told Channel 12.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot respond to it – a hormone created by the pancreas that allows blood sugar to enter cells to be used as energy. This leads to high blood sugar levels.
The Department of Health has so far refused to stop doctors from prescribing the diabetes drug to weight-loss patients, saying it would be an inappropriate intervention at doctors’ discretion.
Instead, the Department of Health sent a letter to pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk asking it to work to ensure a “steady supply” of the drug. According to Channel 12, the company has already increased its Ozempic offer to Israel compared to other countries.
The Danish pharmaceutical multinational reportedly said it would “work transparently alongside the Ministry of Health” to ensure access to the drug for those who need it.
According to recent data from the World Health Organization published in 2022, 26.1% of adult Israelis suffer from obesity, including 25.9% of men and 26.2% of women.