Hospitals, pharmacies running low on laxatives as demand spikes

Many are blaming a TikTok trend

Hospitals and pharmacies nationwide are failing to meet patient demand, according to a recent report by The Wall Street Journal, as the U.S. is currently experiencing a laxative shortage. Over-the-counter laxative brands, such as MiraLAX, Ex-Lax, and Glycolax, have consequently become harder to come by.

According to Forbes, the increase in demand for laxatives across the country has likely been spurred by the rise in popularity of weight loss pills like Ozempic. On TikTok, over-the-counter laxatives are being touted as “budget Ozempic” for weight loss.

Ozempic was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an injectable medication for the treatment of diabetes back in 2017. Under the brand name Wegovy, the FDA approved a different version of the drug — one with higher doses of its active ingredient — to treat obesity in 2021. Since then, “#Ozempic” has been viewed hundreds of millions of times on TikTok.

The platfoorm is not entirely to blame for the laxative shortage, reported. The shift to hybrid work schedules, for example, has disrupted many Americans’ diets and exercise routines. Those disruptions can lead to constipation and other digestive troubles, adding to the demand for over-the-counter laxatives.

For those having difficulty finding laxatives at their local drugstores, gastroenterology medical fellow Dr. Wendi LeBrett told Business Insider that there are better solutions for digestive troubles. Most notably, she suggested adding more fiber to your diet, particularly the supplement psyllium husk.

“I typically actually recommend starting with psyllium as my first line treatment,” Dr. LeBrett said. That being said, it is important to note that it will likely take days for the increased fiber intake to take effect.

“A lot of people take it for constipation and then expect that it will work the same day,” she said.

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