This had prompted Alpro Pharmacy – the nation’s largest prescription pharmacy chain – to come forward to address the controversy and educate the public on the risks and side effects of misusing prescription medicine that is indicated for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
“Semaglutide is a medication sold under different brand names including Ozempic, an anti-diabetic medication used for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and, in the United States, as an anti-obesity medication for long-term weight management,” acknowledged Alpro Pharmacy chief pharmacist and director of engagement Lim En Ni.
“However, Ozempic is not the ultimate answer for obesity as it is a prescription medicine indicated for Type 2 diabetes that requires a patient to go get a complete medication review.”
Lim warned than an overdose of Ozempic or other similar prescription can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) that leads to more health complications.
“Common side effects of diabetes drugs include gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and constipation. Other possible side effects include pancreatitis, changes in vision, low blood sugar, kidney failure and gallbladder issues,” she clarified.
“The drug Ozempic is also contraindicated for people who have suffered from medullary thyroid cancer or certain endocrine disorders.”
As such, the first choice to reduce body weight is through lifestyle and diet modification, and diet, according to Lim, is the key component in weight management.
“Many people are aware of this, but only a few succeeded. This is because most people initiate the lifestyle and diet changes without proper planning and consultation from experts such as nutritionists and dietitians,” she said.
“With proper consultation from nutritionist and dietician, weight loss progression can be measured with a much higher success rate. Dietitian can personalise weight management plan effectively and safely while taking into account the underlying contributing factor needs to be addressed for each individual, respectively.”
Lim pointed out that in cases where patients require Ozempic, it should only be used under doctor’s prescription and purchased from a licensed pharmacy.
“The public should keep in mind to not purchase this drug online via illegal source as it risks the health of the consumer. It also adds unnecessary distress to diabetic patients as the medications run out of stock due to netizens’ self-prescribing habits,” she remarked.
“Ozempic has to be handled with care under tight temperature control as it is a cold chain medicine. Once the cold chain is broken, the efficacy may be affected and may also cause unwanted side effects.”