N.S. regulator gathers info on Ozempic prescriptions written to U.S. patients
After British Columbia singled out a Nova Scotia practitioner for writing thousands of Ozempic prescriptions to Americans through pharmacies in metro Vancouver, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia began looking into the matter.
“We’re looking to gather information right now,” said Dr. Gus Grant, Registrar and CEO of College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. “Once the information is at hand, we will examine it and determine if next steps are required.”
On Tuesday, B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix announced his province would become the first in Canada to restrict the drug to non-Canadians.
“For the month of January and February, 15 per cent or 15,798 of all the Ozempic dispenses in British Columbia were sold to U.S. residents,” said Dix.
According to that province, almost all of the U.S.-bound prescriptions were shipped from two Vancouver-area pharmacies and the vast majority were signed off by one practitioner in Nova Scotia.
Ozempic is the brand name of an injectable drug called semaglutide. It was developed for people with Type II diabetes and obesity, but many believe the drug’s weight loss side effects have been hyped up by advertising and celebrities.
“This medication has been hijacked from the researchers like us who’ve been working with it for 20 years for disease. It’s been hijacked by people who are trying to lose a small amount of weight,” Dr. Sean Wharton, an Internal Medicine Specialist in Toronto, told CTV News Tuesday.
Halifax-area pharmacy owner and pharmacist Jamie Flynn has noticed its growth in popularity.
“I have seen more people taking it over the last six months to a year,” Flynn said.
But unlike at some Vancouver-area pharmacies, at Flynn’s pharmacy, there was never a concern about a shortage.
Martha Lowe, Communications Manager of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, said the organization is not aware of any current shortage of Ozempic.
“There was a recent temporary shortage that was resolved and we have not received any local concerns,” said Lowe.
The Registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia said interprovincial prescribing has long been a part of medical practice and pharmacists can use their expertise to judge if prescriptions are appropriate.
He adds the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia is responsible for making sure doctors licensed in Nova Scotia are practising safely and competently.
“Once details are known to us of the physician or physicians involved, we will investigate as we normally do to determine whether the care provided by these physicians or physician was appropriate and safe,” said Dr. Grant.
With files from Canadian Press and CTV Vancouver
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