VICTORIA — British Columbia's health minister says he's pushing through a regulatory change to limit the sale of the diabetes drug Ozempic to non-Canadian residents as celebrities promote its weight loss side-effects.
Adrian Dix says the province is taking action after thousands of prescriptions for the much-hyped drug were found to be going to Americans, the vast majority filled at two pharmacies in Metro Vancouver and issued by one Nova Scotia doctor.
Patients in B.C. need access to the drug and Dix says the province's supply shouldn't be drained and exported to the United States as demand surges due to a massive ad campaign and celebrity-driven social media chatter.
The province is working with the drug's supplier to ensure there's enough Ozempic for diabetes patients in B.C., and the health minister says he's pushing for the federal government to address what he calls an "unacceptable situation."
Dix says he's asking the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons to ensure pharmacies are complying with drug dispensing rules after data indicated upwards of 15 per cent of Ozempic prescriptions in the first two months of 2023 were filled for Americans.
He says other drugs see less than half a per cent going to non-Canadian residents, even as more and more Americans turn to Canadian pharmacies for access to cheaper prescription medications.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2023.
The Canadian Press