Patients with type 2 diabetes who are being treated with GLP-1 analog drugs, which are administered with a pre-filled pen, are undergoing a pilgrimage through pharmacies to try to get their hands on their treatment. These drugs are out of stock due to the great demand that has been registered in recent months, since it has been proven that, in addition to treating diabetes, these medications are being used to lose weight.
This situation has led to a lack of stock that is compromising the treatment of thousands of users. The group of GLP-1 analog drugs includes drugs licensed to improve glycemic control in the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes not adequately controlled by diet and exercise.
The Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (Aemps) itself acknowledges that it has become aware of a Increased demand of the medicines included in this group and has issued a series of recommendations to try to alleviate the supply problems if the prescriptions are not adjusted to the cases for which they are indicated, in this case type 2 diabetes.
These drugs are found in three presentations: Trulicityfrom the pharmaceutical company Lilly, which has already communicated the impossibility of coping with the continued increase in demand; Ozempic, from Novo Nordisk, who goes so far as to indicate that the increase in demand for these drugs causes intermittent availability that could be maintained throughout the next year 2023; Y Bydureonfrom AstraZeneca, who has already announced that it plans to stop marketing this drug at the end of this year.
Ozempic comes as a solution for injection in pre-filled pens and can only be dispensed with medical prescription. In the United States, the price amounts to more than 900 euros. In turn, in Spain the price is 128 euro if the prescription is private and, if it is public, it is only financed in the event that it is prescribed by your doctor and it passes due inspection.
Ozempic, according to the laboratory that produces it and also the Medicines Information Center (CIMA) of the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS), is also indicated to reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular events in the detailed segment of patients who also suffer from heart disease. It is not used in people with type 1 diabetes, and it is not an insulin., so it should not be used as a substitute for it; In addition, using it improperly can cause hypoglycemia or severe drops in blood sugar. It should also not be used in patients with diabetic retinopathy, as this medicine can make it worse. it is also Contraindicated in pregnant women.More than 7,000 diabetic patients take this treatment in Murcia
In the Region of Murcia there are currently more than 7,000 diabetic patients being treated with drugs against diabetes, according to the information provided by the General Directorate of Pharmacy of the Ministry of Health. Specifically, 3,699 patients take Trulicity (dulaglutide); 2,974 patients are taking Ozempic (semaglutide) and 331 have been prescribed Bydureon (exenatide). Salud points out that these medicines require a visa from the Inspection prior to their dispensing, “which ensures that the indication for which they are authorized and financed is met”, since prescriptions for other indications are not financed.
The Official College of Pharmacists of the Region of Murcia confirms that there is an open incident due to supply problems with these medicines, a alert that has no expiration date, as occurs on other occasions when the approximate period in which the supply will be restored is foreseen. For this reason, the College of Pharmacists have sent circulars to all pharmacies with the recommendations that should be given to patients who are affected by this situation.
Diabetes Care Association President Adirmu, Silvia Serrano, explains that “the formulation of these drugs also makes you lose weight”, so they have also learned that they are being used for obesity, extending their use for other purposes. Adirmu insists that a pilgrimage of users through pharmacies in search of these injections, while indicating that “for us this drug is more vital than for those who use it to lose weight, so we ask that responsible use be made.
José Riquelme: “I haven’t worn it for almost a month because I can’t find it”
José Riquelme, a 72-year-old resident of the municipality of Alcantarilla, is one of the Murcian patients with type 2 diabetes affected by shortages of the drug with which he was being treated.
“I have been using Ozempic for years, but it has been several weeks since I it’s impossible to find in the pharmacy. So what I have done has been to lengthen the needles that I had left at home”, explains this retired engineer to La Opinión de Murcia, a newspaper of the Prensa Ibérica group.
Riquelme remembers that he began the treatment by giving himself up to one injection a day, but the dose was reduced and lately he was taking one a week. “This product is a lot more effective than other treatments that I’ve had before, as it allows me to control the sugar spikes that I have after meals, when before it was impossible.
This patient points out that he has worked for many years as an engineer in the pharmaceutical industry, in companies in the Region of Murcia, and “I know how the sector works”, for which he affirms that “it makes me very sad that these problems of shortages of medicines, since we know how the market works”.
After visiting several pharmacies and seeing that getting Ozempic has become an impossible mission, José Riquelme has given up trying. “I haven’t put it on for a month because I can’t find it,” says this patient, who considers that “if there is a nationwide shortage, it will be difficult for this to be resolved soon, so I am saving the last syringe I have left.”
This resident of Alcantarilla indicates that he is not the only one, since through the Adirmu Diabetes Association he is aware that many are affected by this problem. Only in the Region of Murcia are more than 7,000 patients who are being treated with these drugs, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
“I will have to make an appointment with the doctor to see what I can do, since although I try to control my sugar with food and exercise, this is not enough,” he explains. While he insists that “it is a health issue, not a matter of comfort.”
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