Doctors report an increase in demand for Ozempic diabetes injections for weight loss in the UAE.
A growing number of UAE residents are flocking to health
clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals across the country to obtain diabetes
injections such as Saxenda and Ozempic in order to use the medications for
Doctors in Dubai told Al Arabiya English that interest has
risen as a result of videos on TikTok and Instagram advertisements promoting
the drugs as a miracle cure for stubborn fat – despite residents being warned
that they cannot simply walk into a pharmacy to obtain the drug.
Last week, Al Arabiya English reported that the drugs –
injections typically used to treat diabetes – used for weight loss without a
doctor’s prescription are far more dangerous than people believe, with experts
claiming that the recent diet craze has exacerbated the global shortage of such
Dr. Aswin Pankajakshan, a specialist endocrinologist at NMC
Royal Hospital, DIP, Dubai, said there has been a “considerable surge in
interest” in the drug in the UAE.
As influencers on social media platforms like TikTok
popularise Ozempic as a weight loss drug, there has been a significant increase
in the use of Semaglutide (Ozempic) worldwide, including in the UAE,” the
doctor told Al Arabiya English.
We see at least four patients per week who are
interested in using Ozempic as a weight loss medication.” This has
resulted in a global medication shortage, which may affect the availability of
these medications for diabetic patients.”
Semaglutide (Ozempic) and Liraglutide (Saxenda), according
to Dr. Pankajakshan, are newer diabetes medications. They were later approved
by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of obesity.
Semaglutide (Ozempic) is a once-weekly injectable medication
that has not yet been approved by UAE health authorities for weight loss in
Liraglutide (Saxenda) is a once-daily injection that has
been approved for weight loss for many years.
“However, the once-weekly administration has made
Semaglutide (Ozempic) far more popular than the once-daily Saxenda,” Dr.
Pankajakshan explained. “Semaglutide works in a variety of ways; it causes
a sense of fullness and satiety early on by affecting appetite centres in the
brain.” It also slows stomach emptying and, as a result, reduces calorie
Side effects of Ozempic
However, the doctor warned of the drug’s side effects. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, and other
gastrointestinal symptoms can be caused by semaglutide.” “Although
these medications are well-proven in the management of obesity, they should
only be taken after discussing the pros and cons of taking these medications
with your obesity physician or endocrinologist,” Dr. Pankajakshan told Al
And, as long as there are supply constraints for this
medication, people should refrain from using it solely for weight loss, so that
diabetic patients do not run out of their prescription medication.
There is a severe drug shortage.
According to Dr. Fadi Baladi, medical director and
consultant in internal medicine at Burjeel Day Surgery Center on Al Reem Island
in Abu Dhabi, there is already a shortage in Ozempic due to high demand.
There is a trend of people promoting diabetes
injections as a weight-loss solution on social media platforms.” These are
prescription medications that should not be given to just anyone who walks into
The shortage we have right now is related to the
over-demand for medications like Ozempic,” he continued. If there are no
contraindications and the patient meets the criteria, this medication is
FDA-approved for obesity.
The massive shortage is the result of oversupply and
transportation issues. In such cases, we provide patients with the option of
choosing drugs made from similar ingredients. We inform patients about the
risks associated with alternatives that do not have FDA approval. These
medications are again provided only if the qualification criteria are
According to Dr. Baladi, obesity is a chronic condition that
cannot be treated by taking medications for two to three months.
The patient must make a lifelong commitment to
overcoming obesity, and lifestyle changes must be considered,” he added.
Before prescribing such medications, physicians carefully consider
the criteria, which include BMI and other factors. A qualified physician must
conduct the candidate selection process. If there are no other side effects or
contraindications, people with uncontrolled diabetes and weight issues are
ideal candidates for these medications.”
“We must ensure that no underlying conditions interfere
with the medication.” The patient must be thoroughly and carefully
evaluated in terms of contraindications, side effects, and adverse reactions,
and we must ensure that these medications do not interact with other
medications the patient is taking.”
Other side effects of this medication, according to Dr.
Baladi, include liver, kidney, pancreas, and thyroid issues.
However, such side effects can be monitored and
controlled by the doctor.” As a result, these medications are not
appropriate for someone who is carrying a few extra kilogrammes but does not
want to go to the gym. These medications are not a substitute for a healthy
lifestyle because there is a risk of regaining weight after stopping
Other side effects of this medication, according to Dr.Baladi, include: Dr. Mona Joumaa, Clinical Dietitian and Weight Reduction
Counselor at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital in Dubai, also stated earlier this
week that these medications have not been studied or tested in other patients.
It is not safe to take these medications if you do not
meet the eligibility requirements.” They have not been studied or approved
for use in other patient populations, and their safety and effectiveness are
unknown in those populations.
According to experts, people who stopped taking some of
these medications, even if they were prescribed to them, experienced an
increase in their blood pressure as well as an increase in their cholesterol
and blood glucose levels.