Nicole Ireland, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, August 18, 2023 1:00PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, August 18, 2023 5:52PM EDT
A shortage of diabetes drug Ozempic that is used off-label for weight loss is expected in Canada, manufacturer Novo Nordisk and Health Canada said on Friday.
“We are experiencing a temporary supply disruption with the Ozempic 1 mg (injection) pen due to the combination of overall global supply constraints coupled with increased demand,” said Novo Nordisk spokesperson Kate Hanna in an emailed statement.
Canada is one of “many countries” experiencing a shortage and the company is working with Health Canada to mitigate the impact, Hanna added.
On its website, the federal regulator said “intermittent shortages” are expected from late August to early October.
The lower-dose Ozempic injection pens of 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg remain available and “may be an option for some patients” as an alterative, Health Canada’s web page said.
But swapping in multiple lower doses to replace the 1 mg dose is not likely to address the need, said Barry Power, acting chief pharmacist officer for the Canadian Pharmacists Association.
People with diabetes usually start taking Ozempic at a 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg dose before moving up to 1 mg, which is the maintenance dose, he said.
“Because they are starting doses, the inventory would be a lot lower in general because most people are only on those for a short period of time,” said Power, who is also a practising pharmacist in Ottawa.
“So it may be a stopgap for a few people, but I think most people, if they run into a situation where they’re unable to get the prescription refilled, they will have to work with their