Apr 09, 2024
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Why Is There a Shortage of Glp-1 Diabetes Type 2 Medications Such as Ozempic?

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    Why Is There a Shortage of Glp-1 Diabetes Type 2 Medications Such as Ozempic?

     

    Some Type 2 Diabetes GLP-1 medications, such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, Trulicity, and Rybelsus, have been in short supply worldwide since June 2022, and according to Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Trulicity, shortages are expected to continue through December 2024.

     

    What is causing the shortage?

    • The proven weight loss side-effect of these GLP-1 Type 2 diabetes drugs is being promoted on social media and in TV ads, resulting in an unexpected and significant surge in demand.
    • Most of the GLP-1 drugs, Trulicity, Rybelsus, Ozempic, and Mounjaro, have been FDA-approved for Type 2 Diabetes but not for weight loss. However, doctors are actively prescribing them off-label for weight loss, and some insurance carriers are approving them when heart disease is present.
    • Two GLP-1 drugs (Wegoby and Zepbound) have been FDA-approved for weight loss. However, not all insurance carriers cover them, which leads to prolonged authorization reviews, denials, appeals, and exceptions.
    • The increased demand for these medications has strained the existing supply chain and the insurance authorization units. Factors such as limited production capacity, supply disruptions, and global supply constraints have exacerbated the shortages.

     

    What is being done to address the shortage?

    Manufacturers are aware of the challenges and are working to mitigate their impact on patient access. Efforts to optimize production and distribution channels are underway to address the increased demand and streamline the delivery process. However, this will take time.

     

    How is the Shortage Affecting Patients?

    • The surge in demand is causing delays/denials in insurance authorizations and straining retail pharmacies and mail-order services.
    • The shortage of these medications poses serious risks to diabetic patients who rely on them for glycemic control. Discontinuation or rationing of these drugs can lead to worsened diabetes management, potentially increasing the risk of cardiovascular events and other complications.

    This phenomenon underscores the complex dynamics between medication availability, regulatory frameworks, and patient behavior.

     

    Recommendations:

    • Type 2 diabetic patients experiencing disruptions in obtaining their medications should consult with their doctors to explore alternative treatment options or adjust medication regimens based on individual patient needs and availability.
    • Doctors may also decide to prescribe only Wegoby or Zepbound for weight loss patients, which would increase the availability of the other GLP-1 medications for Type 2 diabetes patients.

     

    If you have questions about your healthcare plan or access to care, contact our Advocacy Team by calling 855-662-1029

     

     


    Further Reading

    GLP-1 Agents: The Pros and Cons of the Latest Weight Loss Drugs

    Obesity in the US has surged over the past 25 years, rising from 31% in the early 2000s to approximately 42% by 2020. Studies reveal that obese individuals are six times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, although weight is just one contributing factor among many.

     

    The media bombards us with ads for new medications addressing diabetes and weight loss. Among these, GLP-1 agonists stand out. These drugs enhance blood sugar control and may lead to weight loss. By mimicking a natural hormone, they increase insulin production and slow digestion. Here’s what you need to know:

     

    PROS:

    • Effectiveness: Clinical trials demonstrate significant weight loss.
    • Metabolic Health: Improved cardiovascular health and glycemic control.
    • Appetite Suppression: Mimicking the appetite-regulating hormone.
    • Blood Sugar Control: Enhanced management.
    • Non-Surgical Option

     

    CONS:

    • Side Effects: Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. Are you afraid of needles? Most of these medications are delivered via an injection.
    • Cost: List prices often exceed $1000.
    • Availability Challenges: Drugs are so popular for weight loss that there have been shortages affecting diabetic patients.
    • Long-Term Commitment: These medications aren’t a “one and done” solution; they should be taken long-term for optimal results.
    • Diet and Exercise: Use them in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and an increase in physical activity.

    Be sure to consult your doctor to determine the right regimen for you. Want to read more? Johns HopkinsUC Davis, and Mayo Clinic

     

    Further information on this topic:

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