Diabetes remedy in demand as Canadians wait for brand new weight-loss drug

Excessive demand in the USA for a brand new weight-loss remedy has indefinitely delayed its arrival in Canada, prompting many Canadians to hunt prescriptions for an nearly equivalent drug that has been permitted for the remedy of Kind 2 diabetes.

An evaluation by the Canadian Company for Medicine and Applied sciences in Well being (CADTH) and obtained by The Globe and Mail discovered that, in some provinces, 36 per cent to 74 per cent of private drug plan claims for Ozempic (prescriptions paid for via personal or federal drug plans or out of pocket) had been from individuals who seemingly didn’t have Kind 2 diabetes, indicating the remedy was seemingly getting used for weight reduction – an instance of what’s often known as off-label use.

CADTH is an unbiased group that advises governments on issues associated to drug coverage.

The CADTH research, revealed Thursday, was prompted by the hovering demand for Ozempic and quickly escalating prices for drug plans throughout the nation. Spending on Ozempic in Canada elevated from $13.5-million in 2019 to $227-million in 2021, in response to the research.

Danish multinational Novo Nordisk manufactures Ozempic but in addition produces Wegovy, the identical remedy in a special dose that’s particularly marketed for the remedy of weight problems. Wegovy was permitted by Well being Canada final November, however “unprecedented demand” within the U.S., the place it launched final yr, has led to shortages, Novo Nordisk spokesperson Kate Hanna stated in an e-mail.

It’s unclear when it should arrive in Canada.

Ozempic and Wegovy are the model names of semaglutide, an injectable drug that helps decrease blood glucose ranges. It has additionally been proven to assist people drop extra pounds when mixed with train and a modified weight loss program.

Hovering demand for Ozempic has additionally led to shortages in some nations, however Ms. Hanna stated Canada has thus far not been affected.

Brent Fraser, the vice-president of pharmaceutical critiques with CADTH, stated “it simply creates numerous completely different points” when a drug is so generally used for a non-intended objective, as is the case with Ozempic.

Along with issues about drug security, higher-than-expected prices linked to such medicines may lead plans to put new restrictions on them, limiting entry to such medication.

For now, the demand for Ozempic as a weight-loss remedy doesn’t seem like slowing down, and specialists say that’s unlikely to alter so long as Wegovy stays unavailable.

In keeping with the CADTH research, one in 5 individuals in Ontario taking the drug seemingly shouldn’t have Kind 2 diabetes, which incorporates 15 per cent of Ozempic claimants on the provincial drug plan.

CADTH specialists analyzed drug-claim information from throughout the nation to find out which people taking Ozempic seemingly shouldn’t have diabetes. The researchers decided that individuals who had by no means submitted a declare for a diabetes drug or glucose monitoring gadget had been seemingly taking Ozempic for weight reduction slightly than diabetes administration.

The research says the drug’s reputation has seemingly been fuelled by direct-to-consumer promoting. Such adverts are usually not authorized in Canada and the research notes that Well being Canada obtained six complaints concerning such adverts for Ozempic from 2014 to 2021. The drug can also be generally featured on social media, with many customers posting about their weight-loss experiences.

CADTH can even quickly launch its long-awaited choice on whether or not Wegovy must be coated by provincial drug plans. Up to now, CADTH has not advisable reimbursement for medication particularly designed for weight administration.

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