Pharmac taking action to ensure supply of type 2 diabetes medicine amid worldwide shortage

Media release Supply issue Medicines

Te Pātaka Whaioranga - Pharmac is taking steps to ensure people with type 2 diabetes who take dulaglutide (branded as Trulicity) can continue to access the treatment while we experience further supply chain issues on top of a global shortage.

Dulaglutide is a medication injected once a week for the treatment of type 2 diabetes while also reducing the risk of heart attack for this population.

“We want to reassure people taking dulaglutide that we are doing all we can to make sure they can access a treatment,” says Pharmac’s Director, Pharmaceuticals Geraldine MacGibbon.

“Since March we have funded an alternative treatment called liraglutide (brand name Victoza) which is a similar medicine to dulaglutide and there is plenty of stock available. We’re encouraging healthcare practitioners to prescribe this treatment to new patients. Liraglutide requires a different Special Authority approval from dulaglutide."

“Another step we are taking is reducing the dispensing frequency for dulaglutide from three monthly to monthly from Friday the first of September. We appreciate this will mean people will need to visit their pharmacy more often.”

Earlier in 2023 Pharmac’s Diabetes Advisory Committee advised that prioritising available stock for those already on dulaglutide is important and that an alternative diabetes treatment needed to be available. The new currently funded alterative, liraglutide, requires a daily, rather than weekly self-administered injection.

The supplier of dulaglutide, Eli Lilly, has advised Pharmac that more stock is on its way to New Zealand and expects it to be available from mid-September. 

“We are working hard to make sure people with type 2 diabetes can continue to access this important medicine and we will continue to keep a close eye on supplies,” concludes MacGibbon.

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The supply issue is caused by unanticipated increases in global demand for dulaglutide and other GLP-1 agonists. The supplier's most recent statement about the shortage was on 23 August 2023(external link).