A nationwide surge in the use of Ozempic, a diabetes medication and weight-loss drug, has prompted concerns and a rising number of calls to poison control centers.

The Arizona Drug and Poison Information Center reported a 60% increase in Ozempic-related calls, with five calls in 2022 and eight calls in 2023 in Pima County. Director Steven Dudley said it has become popular because of the drug’s dramatic weight-loss effects.

“Ozempic is a brand name for a drug we call semaglutide, and really its used for two main things: diabetes and weight loss, said Dudley.

However, the drug’s popularity has led to back orders, causing pharmacies to compound the drug.

“Instead of getting the brand-name product, a pre-marked syringe, where you know exactly how much to take, youre getting a regular vile and a blank syringe… and youre being told, ‘Hey, take this much and theres a lot of confusion that were seeing from patients in terms of how much that dose should be,” Dudley said.

Adding to the concerns, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning about counterfeit Ozempic circulating on the market.

If you know what youre getting, you expect to see nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, but if youre getting a counterfeit product with another drug, theres really no way of telling, Dudley said.

Dudley emphasized the importance of consulting a healthcare professional before considering Ozempic.

“Has it been studied in people without diabetes for weight loss? Absolutely. And in those controlled environments, has it been deemed safe and affected by the FDA? Yes it has. That doesnt mean that its just safe for anyone to use, right? And so the big thing you have to think about is, what are your other conditions you may have, and what medications are you on?” he said.

The ADPIC anticipates a further rise in Ozempic-related calls in Pima County due to the popularity. They advise residents to exercise caution, consult healthcare providers before starting the medication, and report any adverse effects immediately.