- A shortage of the diet drug Ozempic has people buying fake versions online
- UK medicines regulator warned people not to buy fake medicines from Ozempic
Dieters are desperate for a new “miracle” drug and are risking their health by buying fake versions online.
Demand for the diabetes drug Ozempic has skyrocketed since its key ingredient, semaglutide, was discovered to cause significant weight loss.
But global shortages of the drug mean people are turning to the internet to buy it from unofficial sites, prompting the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to warn that those buy these products are putting their health at risk.
Ozempic is available on the NHS as a treatment to control blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
In May, it was also approved for weight loss under the Wegovy brand, but has yet to launch in the UK due to supply issues.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned Britons not to buy fake Ozempic online.
The delay has led to a rise in ‘off-label’ prescribing, where drugs are issued for something other than their intended use, leading officials to issue a national patient safety alert warning of shortages and urging all health care providers not to dispense medications. for obesity
Now, people are turning to ads placed by users of social networking sites, including TikTok, Facebook and Instagram, and other weight loss drugs.
One patient, named only as Danielle, said she felt unwell after injecting what she thought was Ozempic, but put it down to unpleasant side effects.
She and a friend ordered some injection pens after being approached on social media, but now suspect it was insulin they received.
“It woke me up and my heart was beating so fast I honestly thought I was going to have a heart attack,” he told The Times.
“That obviously scared me and I honestly felt like I was going to die.”
Ozempic’s maker, Novo Nordisk, said it is in “close dialogue” with local health authorities to prevent fake versions of the drug from being sold.
An MHRA spokeswoman said: “Purchasing Ozempic, or any medicinal product, from vendors who trade illegally online significantly increases the risk of obtaining an unlicensed or counterfeit product for use in the UK.”
‘Buying from illegal suppliers means there are no safeguards in place to ensure products meet our quality and safety standards, and taking such medicines can put your health at risk.
“If you suspect you’ve had an adverse reaction to Ozempic or any other medicine, are concerned about its safety or efficacy, or suspect it’s not a genuine product, please report it to our Yellow Card scheme.”
A spokesman for the Novo Nordisk producers said: “Patient safety is a top priority for Novo Nordisk and we are in close dialogue with all relevant stakeholders and local health authorities to help patients against counterfeit products.
‘When we learn of websites, marketplaces, or social media posts that are running illegal or unauthorized promotions for our medicines (for example, counterfeit or over-the-counter), we evaluate the best course of action to take, which may include attempting to remove these from the internet and keep researching them.’