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99% drop in Ozempic shipments to U.S. residents after B.C. introduces restrictions

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says there’s been a 99 per cent drop in the number of online Ozempic prescriptions filled by Americans from pharmacies in that province since it introduced regulations to protect the local supply for diabetes patients.

Weight loss is one of the side-effects of the injectable medication, sparking a huge uptick in its popularity, with Americans ordering it from two Vancouver-area pharmacies at cheaper prices than in the U.S.

The Health Ministry says 30,700 prescriptions for the injectable medication were mailed to the United States from Jan. 1 to April 19. 

But between April 20 and May 31, that number fell to 111 prescriptions shipped to American residents.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced legislation on April 19that aims to prevent a shortage of the drug semaglutide, known widely as Ozempic, withonline sales restricted for foreign buyers.

In January, the province provided limited coverage of Ozempic for Type 2 diabetes patients to help manage blood-sugar levels, but a surge in demand came from U.S. residents, who received 88 per cent of the total prescriptions filled by the end of February. 

A Texas-based doctor with a licence to practise in Nova Scotia was temporarily suspended after writing 17,000 prescriptions for the drug that were shipped to the U.S.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2023.

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content.

The Canadian Press

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