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‘Don’t just jump on a band wagon:’ Diabetic drug shortage after endorsement from TikTok influencers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Diabetics are having trouble getting a hold of life-saving medication, largely because of a TikTok trend.

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#Ozempic is going viral on the social media platform. Celebrities and influencers coined it as a miracle drug for weight loss. While Ozempic does help people lose weight, it is also an essential drug for some type 2 diabetics, and it helps those with other health issues tied to obesity.

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The drug manufacturer recently announced a shortage of the drug because of the increase in demand, according to the ASHP foundation. The drug is meant for those with type 2 diabetes, because it helps them make more insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels.

“I started Ozempic originally in July of 2022,” Stacey Howell, said. She is type 1 diabetic. Her doctor recommended the drug for weight-loss. She has been documenting her journey going from 275 pounds to now 228—a number she said she hasn’t seen in 10 years.

Howell has struggled with weight-loss because of insulin resistance, and she’s frustrated to hear about the shortage.

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“People can’t get a medication that has literally changed their life, because an influencer on TikTok wants to lose weight,” Howell said.

Her insurance was recently denied for the product.

“Insurance companies are really cracking down. They’re you know--denying people because they don’t have type 2 diabetes,” Howell said. “Even though in my example, I’ve been on it for seven months, but because I don’t have type 2 diabetes-- even though I have side effects and symptoms as a type 2 diabetic would-- I’m not allowed to use it.”

Randi Beesing is the owner of Any Lab Test Now. She is familiar with the Ozempic craze. She said before using any weight-loss medication, you should consult with your doctor or consider getting a lab test to see if you qualify.

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“They could do glucose testing. They could insulin resistance testing,” Beesing said. “There’s just an array of different diabetic related tests that we could do to give them an idea of if that medication would be right for them.”

Beesing showed us the ‘Your Healthy Weight, Your DNA’ test. It gives the patient 75 pages of information in return, breaking down exercise recommendation and food and chloric intake.

“This test will actually identify the way your body metabolizes fats, the way your body metabolizes energy and exercise, and how your body responds to that,” Beesing said. “It may prevent you from wanting to take a medication that would be standard for a type 2 diabetic.”

As for Howell, she asks that people do research and speak their doctor instead of going straight for the drug.

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“Don’t just jump on a band wagon because it’s a trend you saw on TikTok,” Howell said. “Don’t take it from someone else just because you wanna be lazy. Other people don’t have that luxury.”