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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Limited supply of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug to commence in Australia

Health Industry Hub | February 22, 2023 |

Pharma News: From late this week, limited supplies of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug will be distributed in Australia.

The long-term stock issues relating to Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic (semaglutide) resulted from off-label use in chronic weight management and impacted the supply of Eli Lilly’s Trulicity (dulaglutide).

The Department of Health and Aged Care has asked wholesalers supplying pharmacies to apply purchasing limits to ensure a more even distribution of the Ozempic stock. The Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) has also asked wholesalers to prioritise filling pharmacy orders in rural and remote areas during the first few weeks to assist supply in those areas, noting patients in these areas have fewer choices of pharmacy at which to fill their prescriptions.

Initial supplies of Ozempic will not be enough to meet demand from all patients with current valid prescriptions for type 2 diabetes nor for those taking it off-label for other conditions.

In the current situation, the regulator has strongly recommended that health professionals allocate supplies to patients using Ozempic for registered indications, particularly those who have not been switched by their doctor to other glucose-lowering medicines.

The TGA has urged prescribers treating patients with obesity should continue to consider alternatives to semaglutide because supply will remain unstable for some time.

Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy (semaglutide) was included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) on 1 September 2022, for chronic weight management as an adjunct to a reduced-energy diet and increased physical activity. Novo Nordisk is yet to supply Wegovy in Australia. No anti-obesity medications are currently subsidised through the PBS.

In the case of Ozempic, prescribers have been asked to avoid initiating new patients until supply stabilises and should continue to prioritise supply of Ozempic for people with type 2 diabetes who are current or previous users and for whom other medicines are not suitable. Patients may need to restart treatment with a prescription for Ozempic 0.25/0.5 mg 1.34 mg/mL pre-filled pen to minimise risk of gastrointestinal side effects. 

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