An Ipswich man has explained how a national shortage of medication is affecting diabetic people like him. 

Nigel Davies, 62, is a motorcycle instructor from the Alexandra area of Ipswich who has lived with type 2 diabetes for the past 18 years. 

After initially being prescribed insulin, Mr Davies now controls his blood sugar using weekly injections of Trulicity, a GLP-1 receptor agonist (RA). 

However, this week Mr Davies found himself without his medication for four days and for the time being is taking a substitute. 

Ipswich Star: Mr Davies, 62, has lived with diabetes for 18 yearsMr Davies, 62, has lived with diabetes for 18 years (Image: Charlotte Bond)

GLP-1 RAs are medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes. The medication mimics the action of the GLP-1 hormone, which is naturally released when you eat food.  

The medicines work in several different ways: they can help the body to produce insulin (which regulates the amount of sugar in your blood); reduce the amount of glucose made by the liver; slow down digestion, so that it takes longer for the body to absorb sugar; or reduce appetite. 

However, these medications have become popular amongst non-diabetics over the past year, because they come with the side effect of weight loss.  

Hollywood celebrities such as Sharon Osborne, actress and comedian Amy Schumer and tycoon Elon Musk have spoken out about using brand name medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy, of which the active substance is the GLP-1 RA semaglutide. 

Ipswich Star: Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon MuskTesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk (Image: PA)

However, this rise in popularity has created shortages of the medicines, which are expected to last until at least the end of 2024, or even into 2025. 

For diabetics such as Mr Davies, this is troubling. 

“It causes disruption, but it’s also impacting on my blood sugar control,” he said. “Blood sugar control is absolutely vital. Without being overly dramatic, it’s impacting on how long I’m going to live. It’s as simple as that.” 

Guidance from the organisation Diabetes UK advises clinicians not to prescribe GLP-1RAs outside of their approved use, and not to switch patients between drug brands once they have become established on one.  

However, Mr Davies remains concerned about what the future holds for himself and his fellow diabetics. He hopes that the government can take steps to ensure that the the needs of diabetics who depend on the medicines are prioritised. 

“I’m relatively lucky,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to get my diabetes under control. Some people are less fortunate.  

“And this situation is not helping.”