30 Apr 2024

Pharmac restricts diabetes drugs amid global shortage

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 30 April 2024

Two drugs for type 2 diabetes are being restricted to only those already prescribed them, due to a global shortage. From Wednesday funded access to dulaglutide and liraglutide known as Trulicity and Victoza respectively will be restricted.

Between December last year and March about 5000 people started taking these medicines and Pharmac says if the growing trend continued it would start to have difficulty with filling prescriptions. The drugs are used alongside metformin and help to trigger the body's feeling of fullness.

General Practice New Zealand chair Dr Bryan Betty says the drugs are a "game changer" for those with type 2 diabetes and he expects Pharmac to work to resolve the situation as soon as possible. Diabetes NZ chief executive Heather Verry says there's no doubt the shortage comes from a global demand to use the drugs for weight loss.    


Online websites targeting NZers with weight loss drugs

Online retailers are targeting social media users in New Zealand, by advertising controlled drugs like semaglutide and duromine, as a weight loss tool. Semaglutide is one of the drugs in short supply for diabetics, due to soaring international demand due to its weight loss properties.

It is not an over the counter drug in New Zealand. Medsafe says it is difficult to shut-down the offshore operators, as they simply return to the internet under a new domain name. The medical regulatory body is working with Customs to identify packages that contain the prescription drugs. 

New Zealand Telehealth Forum chair Dr Ruth Large complained about an online retailer last November after seeing it advertising duromine, a controlled drug which suppresses appetite. She joins Kathryn to talk about the dangers of ordering such drugs online.

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Photo: 123rf