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Australia’s pharmaceuticals regulator has tightened advice on a diabetes drug which sky rocketed in popularity due to its weight loss effects.

Ballooning demand for the diabetes medicine Ozempic has triggered major shortages and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has restricted access for Australians.

Doctors are now being advised to not prescribe new patients Ozempic unless there are no suitable alternatives.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 17: In this photo illustration, boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic rest on a pharmacy counter on April 17, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Ozempic was originally approved by the FDA to treat people with Type 2 diabetes- who risk serious health consequences without medication. In recent months, there has been a spike in demand for Ozempic, or semaglutide, due to its weight loss benefits, which has led to shortages. Some doctors prescribe Ozempic off-label to treat
Rules are being tightened in Australia around the prescription of the popular drug Ozempic. (Getty)

They are also advised to switch patients already receiving the drug to an alternative, if possible, as supplies run low.

“Supplies should be conserved for patients who are stabilised on Ozempic who have no other treatment options,” the TGA said.

The shortage is expected to last for the remainder of this year and throughout 2024, according to the drug’s manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

The company said it was continuing to increase manufacturing capacity but it would take time to build supply levels to meet global and local demand.

Ozempic is a brand of the popular type 2 diabetes drug semaglutide that has gained popularity online for its use as a weight loss treatment.

Demand for Ozempic has surged worldwide due to its weight loss effects. (Nine)

While the drug has become increasingly popular as a weight loss treatment, the TGA says it should only be prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Ozempic, which has the side-effect of suppressing appetite, sprung into the public eye as a weight loss treatment following heavy social media promotion.

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