Ozempic is at risk of running out of pharmacies due to high demand


Ozempic, a drug indicated for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, is at risk of running out of stock in Brazil in this first quarter, according to Novo Nordisk, the drug’s manufacturer. Although there is no indication on the package leaflet, the drug is also used against obesity.

The possible shortage of the medicine results from a higher demand than expected by Novo Nordisk. According to the pharmaceutical company, Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) has already been notified about the limitations on supply. The forecast is that, only in the second quarter, the refueling will return to normal.

Ozempic, which is an injectable pen, is the trade name for semaglutide 1.0 mg. The substance is officially indicated for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, benefits were seen for weight loss due to the actions that the active principle has in the human body. One of them is to increase the feeling of satiety and reduce appetite. As a result, the patient loses weight.

A Sheet questioned Novo Nordisk if the drug supply problems are related to its use for weight loss. The pharmacist replied that “it is not possible to trace the purpose of use of the product by the patient”. The company also stressed that it does not encourage “off-label” use, which is when a drug is used to treat something that is not on the package leaflet.

If a patient with type 2 diabetes finds it difficult to find the drug, it is possible to adopt other alternatives from the same class of drugs — they are called GLP-1 analogues. In that case, it’s important to talk to the doctor in order to have the proper guidance.


Brazil already has drugs with official indications for obesity. Wegovy is one of them. The medicine has semaglutide in its composition — in this case, at a dosage of 2.4 mg — and has a recommendation in the package insert for the treatment of obesity. It is also manufactured by Novo Nordisk and received authorization to be marketed in Brazil in January 2023.

For the time being, the drug still does not have a defined price or a certain date to arrive in the country, but the expectation of the pharmaceutical company is that the availability of Wegovy in the Brazilian market should occur in the second half of 2023.

Other options are orlistat and sibutramine. The first of them inhibits an enzyme that we have in the intestine with the function of absorbing fat. When a person eats a fatty food and is taking orlistat, the drug blocks the enzyme and the fat is discarded in the stool. The problem is that this mechanism can cause diarrhea due to the fat coming out during defecation.

Sibutramine acts on the brain by reducing the desire to eat foods that give pleasure to the patient. The dilemma is that it is associated with side effects and is not recommended for people with heart disease. Since a considerable amount of obese people have cardiovascular complications, a portion of them cannot use the medicine.

In addition, physical activities and a balanced diet are essential for obesity control. Experts indicate that drugs are allies in weight loss, while changes in lifestyle are essential.

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