"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Wegovy: Supply bottlenecks within the USA strike again

May 5, 2023 – The saga of problems with Wegovy supply for U.S. patients searching for weight reduction is back.

Novo Nordisk, the corporate that manufactures and markets semaglutide for weight reduction under the name Wegovy and for the treatment of type 2 diabetes under the name Ozempic, announced On Thursday, the corporate said it could only supply “limited quantities of the 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg and 1 mg dosage strengths. [of Wegovy] to wholesalers for distribution to pharmacies in the United States. This means that the expected supply “is not going to match the expected patient demand,” a situation the company expects to resolve “by September.”

The update added that the shortage was due to insufficient supply to meet demand in the U.S. However, the announcement assured patients who are already using the drug and taking higher doses weekly that their supply would not be affected.

“We don't currently anticipate any disruption in supply of the 1.7 mg and a pair of.4 mg doses of Wegovy,” the statement said.

Another déjà vu

If this supply shortage seems like déjà vu, it is because the US supply of Wegovy was also tight for much of 2022. But in December 2022 and as recently as February 2023 Statements from Novo Nordisk sounded as if the supply shortages would soon be over. However, today's announcement from the company shows that optimism was misplaced.

A shortage of doses for 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg and 1 mg mainly affects people who start taking Wegovy. To avoid or minimize side effects, especially gastrointestinal effects, patients start treatment with semaglutide or another similar medication at the lowest dose and gradually increase it to a maintenance dose, which can be up to 2.4 mg/week for Wegovy.

The company's announcement acknowledged these impacts, saying that healthcare providers “should consider the limited availability of the 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg and 1 mg dosage strengths of Wegovy of their decisions when initiating therapy in latest patients and concentrate on the potential for interruptions in supply.”

Novo Nordisk's announcement also urged providers and patients to avoid using Ozempic, a semaglutide formulation developed to treat type 2 diabetes, as a stopgap measure. The statement stressed that Wegovy and Ozempic are “not interchangeable.”

This Wegovy shortage could trigger a return to the workarounds developed by the US Weight loss clinics in the last year.

One of those workarounds is to initially give patients one other weight-loss drug, comparable to liraglutide (Saxenda), after which switch them to an available, higher-dose formulation of Wegovy after the early phase is complete.