EU Seeks to Prioritize Diabetes Patients Amid Drug Shortages

EU’s Call to Regulate Diabetes Drug Use

The European Union’s drug regulator has urged member countries to control the non-medical use of potent weight loss and diabetes drugs. This effort aims to ensure that patients who need these medications most receive them first as shortages continue.

Distribution Control Measures

On Wednesday, the EU drug-supply monitoring group recommended that member states implement “measures to control and optimize distribution of these medicines.” Drug manufacturers must also ensure that their marketing messages are approved by regulatory authorities, according to the group.

Impact of Popular Weight Loss Drugs

Struggles of Diabetes Patients

The success of weight loss drugs like Novo Nordisk A/S’s Ozempic and Wegovy, as well as Eli Lilly & Co.’s similar injections, has led to some diabetes patients struggling to maintain their treatment due to shortages.

Slow Rollout of Obesity Medications

The obesity versions of these drugs have been slower to launch in Europe, increasing the demand for their diabetes counterparts. Unlike the more profitable US market, European public health-care systems often engage in upfront price negotiations.

EU’s Recommendations

Prescribing Guidelines

EU regulators cautioned on Wednesday that using diabetes drugs like Ozempic for weight loss will worsen the shortages. They urged doctors to prescribe these treatments strictly according to their approved uses and to avoid prescribing them for cosmetic weight loss. Instead, individuals without obesity or weight-related health issues should receive lifestyle advice.

Warning Against Online Purchases

The regulator also warned patients against purchasing weight-loss drugs online without a prescription, highlighting the risk of obtaining counterfeit products that could be dangerous.

Approved Medications in Europe

In Europe, Ozempic and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro are approved for diabetes treatment. Mounjaro is also approved for obesity under the same brand name, unlike in the US, where it is marketed as Zepbound. Novo’s Wegovy and its older drug Saxenda are also available for weight management in Europe.