369 fake Ozempic injections have been seized since January 2023 in the UK.
By: Jose Ibraim Alape
December 07, 2023
The risk of consuming counterfeit medicines has been highlighted by recent incidents such as the hospitalization of people in Austria after taking fake versions of the diabetes medicine Ozempic, used unauthorized to lose weight.
Thus, the authorities of the Federal Office for Healthcare Security (BASG) reported serious side effects including hypoglycemia and seizures after administration of these counterfeits.
Counterfeit versions of Ozempic raise concerns
Regulatory bodies in the European Union and the United Kingdom have issued public alerts about fake and potentially harmful versions of the popular drug, highlighting the associated risks. This includes the seizure of hundreds of fake Ozempic and Saxenda injections, drugs intended for weight loss.
“Since January 2023, 369 potentially fake Ozempic injections ‘obtained by members of the public via non-legitimate routes’ have been seized, according to the UK MHRA.”
Increase in demand: Weight loss medication
The increase in demand for medications such as Ozempic, initially used to treat type 2 diabeteshas led to its unauthorized use as a tool for rapid weight loss.
That said, influencers and celebrities, such as Elon Musk, have boosted the popularity of this drug on social networks to lose weight quickly. However, the increase in demand has led to a “shortage situation” in the supply for diabetic patients.
It should be noted that the European Medicines Agency highlights that the drastic increase in demand has led to a critical situation in the supply for the diabetic patients.
Dangerous counterfeits: Threat to public health
Counterfeit medicines represent a serious threat to public health as they contain unapproved substances and can cause significant harm. The MHRA reports that the fake Ozempic and Saxenda injection pens contained insulin instead of the active compounds.
Austria’s BASG points out that the counterfeit injection pens were a darker blue color than the genuine items.
Despite the warnings and lack of authorization for certain uses, such as weight loss, authorities point out an increase in the unauthorized use of medications. This represents a health risk since patients may be ingesting unsafe substances.
Dangers of purchasing medications from non-legitimate sources
Health experts urge the public to avoid purchasing medications from non-legitimate sources, as this dramatically increases the risk of receiving fake or unapproved products. Dr Alison Cave, head of safety at the MHRA, warns that taking medicines of this nature puts your health at risk.
“Buy products like Ozempic or Saxenda without a prescription, suppliers who trade illegally significantly increases the risk of receiving something counterfeit or an unapproved product,” Dr. Cave said.
Global alert: Risks to public health
In several countries, authorities issue warnings against purchasing medicines from “dubious sources.” Police and health ministries They alert the population about the risks of ingesting unapproved and counterfeit medications, underlining the importance of following the instructions of health professionals.
Professor Paul Gately, chief executive of Obesity UK, expresses concern about people living with obesity being victims of fake medicines and highlights the importance of following the instructions of qualified health professionals.
Sources consulted here and here