Some European Countries Banned Ozempic — What Will the US Do?

Ozempic is a semaglutide injection developed by Novo Nordisk for type 2 diabetes patients. However, the treatment has garnered attention worldwide for assisting in weight loss, despite potential side effects. Due to its popularity, some European countries have banned Ozempic for weight loss.

Belgium and the United Kingdom are two countries that placed bans on Ozempic for weight loss during the fall. Austria, France, Greece, and the Czech Republic have halted exports for Ozempic.

According to the FDA, Ozempic is approved to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes in addition to diet and exercise. Additionally, Ozempic is approved to lower the chances of heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Ozempic is not approved by the FDA for weight-loss control but may be administered through off-label use.

Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy (2.4mg) is another semaglutide injection that is marketed for losing weight. The FDA has approved weight loss in individuals with at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. Both Ozempicc and Wegovy are known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. GLP-1 can help reduce appetite and provide a feeling of fullness in higher amounts.

Ozempic ban in United States remains unrealistic

Despite its focus on type 2 diabetes patients, Ozempic has garnered attention on social media apps like TikTok for its ability to assist in weight loss. The hype behind Ozempic has led to shortages in many parts of the globe. The European Union’s European Medicines Agency expects Ozempic shortages across the continent to continue throughout 2024. The supply of the .25mg starting dose for Ozempic has been limited by Novo Nordisk, limiting the number of patients who can start new treatments in Europe.

The FDA’s Drug Shortages webpage says all Ozempic treatments are currently available. However, shortages are listed for Wegovy inections .25mg, .5mg, 1mg, and 1.7 mg. Executive Director and Assistant Research Professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Dr. Jen Cadenhead, says a ban on Ozempic in the U.S. is doubtful.

"Because social media has popularized these meds for weight loss, many of these drugs are in short supply. This has made it difficult to get them to the people who really need them. That’s the reason for the ban," Cadenhead tells Healthnews. "It’s unlikely to see a ban in the U.S. because there are other options to treat type 2 diabetes."

Additional GLP-1 receptor agonists for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Dulaglutide (Trulicity)
  • Exenatide (Byetta)
  • Exenatide extended-release (Bydureon)
  • Liraglutide (Victoza)
  • Lixisenatide (Adlyxin)

Ozempic user talks her journey

Jane Kenney is a U.S. resident who is thankful no bans on Ozempic have occurred. Kenney says she has tried everything to find ways to shred extra pounds, including Weight Watchers, Noom, intermittent fasting, and different diets. She began her Ozempic journey in August.

"I first inquired about medications like Ozempic because I have struggled with my weight my whole life. Especially after starting a new treatment back in 2020 for a medical condition I have, it caused me to gain a lot of weight and struggle to get it off. On top of that, my blood pressure and mobility also took a turn, and ultimately, I just decided it was time to reach out for help. [I] did not go for Wegovy because I was told my insurance didn't cover it, otherwise, I likely would have gone for that," she explains to Healthnews.

Side effects of Ozempic listed by the FDA include low blood sugar, pancreas inflammation, complications of diabetes-related retina disease (diabetic retinopathy), and allergic reactions. Other side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and headaches. Kenney says luckily, she has yet to experience any adverse side effects.

"So far, I honestly haven't encountered many side effects on Ozempic. I consider myself lucky! The main side effect is constipation. I've never dealt with constipation ever, so the sudden bloating and abdominal upset was awful. Thankfully, there are gentle OTCs like Miralax that help so much with this, as well as fiber gummies and foods with generally higher contents of fiber in them."

But not everyone is as lucky as Kenney. Some people claim achieving your post-Ozempic body isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Stomach paralysis, Ozempic face, and nausea have caused serious issues for patients. One person even told Global News that Ozempic is a "doctor-approved anorexia" due to dangerous eating habits and the addiction to losing weight.

Overall, however, it looks like Ozempic is here to stay in the states. With popularity still soaring and folks on the medication raving about the outcomes, we can expect to see more shortages before we see outright bans.

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