‘This is not for weight loss’: Doctors raise concern over Ozempic hoarders

June 20, 2024 - 7:10 PM
A box of Ozempic and contents sit on a table in Dudley, North Tyneside, Britain, October 31, 2023. (Reuters/Lee Smith/File Photo)

Non-insulin diabetes medicine Ozempic has become a well-known medicine on social media as a quick way to lose weight. However, physician members of the Philippine Society of Nephrology (PSN) are not in favor of this trend as many are hoarding this medicine.

During the Agham Kapihan on Thursday, physician Agnes Cruz, PSN’s external affairs head, shared that this health buff is not solely a remedy for fat trimming.

Ozempic, also known as a Semaglutide, is an anti-diabetic medication which helps lower blood sugar of those with type 2 diabetes. 

“The problem with [Ozempic] in the Philippines is that rich people can hoard the medicines,” Cruz explained.

This drug particularly gained popularity as it features the possibility of fat loss. A special care facility said that once injected into one’s system, the body would undergo gastric emptying, wherein food will be moved into the first part of the small intestine. This process eventually triggers one’s body to believe that they are satisfied with their meal, thus reducing food intake which eventually leads to losing a few pounds.

READ: How dieting, weight suppression and even misuse of drugs like Ozempic can contribute to eating disorders

Despite the fact that Ozempic can contribute to around 40% decrease in weight, Cruz said that, “this is not for obesity, [and] not for weight loss… Saxenda puwede pa kahit hindi ka diabetic.”

According to its website, Saxenda is an injectable drug which helps patients cut down their body mass. This is usually prescribed to those with obesity.

Supply issue

With the rising rate of people purchasing Ozempic and Trulicity, which is another Semaglutide, many personalities on social media have emphasized the downside of bulk-purchasing this type of medication.

Aly, a Filipina content creator who goes by the name of The Blessed Bhie, posted how hoarding Trulicity made it hard for her family member to gain access.

“Can people stop abusing diabetes medication? Parang almost one month na, walang mahanap tatay ko and it’s freaking me out. Thank you please stop being selfish,” she said on X (formerly Twitter).

“Siya lang nahuli, pero talamak ang black market at off-label use ng Ozempic, with demand driven by people who throw money at this fad. FDA Philippines, let’s step up our game,” another online user on X said.

READ: ‘Budget Ozempic’: five ways this dangerous TikTok trend will harm your health

Kidney health risks

Physician Vimar Luz, PSN secretary and the advocacy head for STOP Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), said that excessive use of over-the-counter drugs including Ozempic, as well as painkillers, can result to CKD.

“Majority of our [Philippine] healthcare is focused on dialysis, which is supposed to be the ‘end point’,” he said.

To minimize the risk for CKD, the PSN has raised awareness to expand early screenings of this disease, and shared information on how to delay the process of this ailment.

The PSN has also partnered with biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca Philippines for Kidney Patrol, a Facebook page which features infographics and to stop kidney complications before they worsen.

In the page, the org helps people identify their health concerns early on through an online assessment.