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Health

Ozempic frenzy sweeping through China as diabetes drug touted for weight loss

IANS | June 07, 2023 12:03 PM

HONG KONG: Ozempic, originally a medication for treating diabetes, is in high demand worldwide with celebrities and social media users touting it as a miracle drug for weight loss. Now the frenzy is sweeping through China, where being "wafer thin" is a prevailing beauty standard, leading to shortages in the country, the media reported.

Chinese social media apps, such as Douyin and Xiaohongshu, have been flooded by posts from users bragging about how they've easily lost 10 or more pounds within a month with just a few injections of Ozempic, which is the brand name of semaglutide, CNN reported.

"This is a wonder drug, " according to a popular series of posts on Xiaohongshu, a Chinese social app similar to Instagram.

"No diet, no exercise, you can reduce weight even when you are lying still."

Ozempic was officially approved in China in April 2021 for treatment of type 2 diabetes.

But users can get it from doctors for other uses, or buy it on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and JD.com with other people's prescriptions, CNN reported.

Medical experts say the drug can have serious side effects. Studies and patient reports show that many patients see their weight rebound soon after stopping the injection.

But its soaring popularity in China means many hospitals and drugstores have run out of Ozempic since late last year, according to the state owned People's Daily Health.

That has caused problems for patients with diabetes who depend on the medication.

A doctor at the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in the megacity of Guangzhou told official media last month that the hospital briefly ran out of Ozempic because of surging demand from patients seeking to lose weight.

The hospital has since stopped prescribing it to people who don't have diabetes, CNN reported.

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