Ozempic shortages: 'I'm diabetic and could go blind because skinny jab is being bought up by the rich'

"I could literally lose my eyesight because wealthy people want their skinny jab. It makes me angry its being diverted and disappointed that I can’t get the drug I need."
Philip Holland, who is diabetic and struggles to get hold of his medication, Ozempic, which people also take to suppress their appetite. Philip Holland, who is diabetic and struggles to get hold of his medication, Ozempic, which people also take to suppress their appetite.
Philip Holland, who is diabetic and struggles to get hold of his medication, Ozempic, which people also take to suppress their appetite.

A diabetic man fears he could lose his eyesight because the Ozempic medication he needs is being bought up by "rich people to use for skinny jabs". Philip Holland, 56, claims staff at Hainault Pharmacy told him their supplies of the drug have dwindled after it emerged it could help with "miracle" weight loss.

An electrician by trade, he needs the medicine to help with his diabetes and says he could be forced to quit his job if he doesn't gain access. Demand for Ozempic, a brand of semaglutide, shot up across Britain after its alleged benefits for dieters were revealed. Philip, from Leytonstone, London, said: "I could literally lose my eyesight because wealthy people want their skinny jab. It makes me angry its being diverted and disappointed that I can’t get the drug I need. It’s a great drug for diabetes. It stabilised my diabetes and my doctor was very pleased with the results. But now my sugar levels are going back up so it’s having a seriously detrimental effect on my health. I can’t do the amount of work I would usually do which will have financial impact. It’s a problem. It means my eyesight's not protected. If it deteriorates any more, in two or three years I won't be able to work. It’s almost heart wrenching - now I’m used to fact I go in and they shake their heads. It should be prioritised for people who need it.”

Philip Holland, who is diabetic and struggles to get hold of his medication, Ozempic, which people also take to suppress their appetite. Philip Holland, who is diabetic and struggles to get hold of his medication, Ozempic, which people also take to suppress their appetite.
Philip Holland, who is diabetic and struggles to get hold of his medication, Ozempic, which people also take to suppress their appetite.
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Philip has been using Ozempic to manage his diabetes symptoms for a year. He says he quickly noticed positive results. But shortages of the drug, which he takes in the form of weekly injections of 50mg, have left him unable to reliably use it. As a result, he says he’s concerned his health will be affected – and is worried there could be knock-on effects on his ability to work. Charity Diabetes UK say global shortages of the medication mean some people living with type two diabetes are unable to access it.

Philip said: "It’s an injection which I take weekly but this year I can’t get it. I repeatedly go to the pharmacist but they say they can’t get hold of it or they only have 1mg when I need 50mg. This year we can't get hold of it and the pharmacist told me it’s because the distributors are selling it off to private companies for weight loss. I cannot believe that a drug that is for people with diabetes is being diverted. I could understand if enough was being produced to cover everyone and then go on to the private market but there's not enough and it's still being diverted. I can’t believe in Britain right now that that's being allowed to happen.”

Douglas Twenefour, head of care at Diabetes UK, said: “The ongoing shortages of some GLP-1 medications including Ozempic are having serious implications for many people with type 2 diabetes and are still a major concern. "With these shortages likely to last for at least the rest of this year, this will have a significant impact on whether many people living with type 2 diabetes can access the best course of treatment for them. “We fully support the instruction that GLP-1 medications should not be prescribed off-label under any circumstances while there is an ongoing shortage impacting people with type 2 diabetes. Anyone affected by these shortages should be contacted by their healthcare team to discuss finding the best course of treatment available. But if you are still concerned, you can ring the Diabetes UK helpline on 0345 123 2399.”

Hainault Pharmacy was approached for comment.

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