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Semaglutide is the active substance in products such as Ozempic and Wegovy Alamy Stock Photo
Ozempic

Dramatic increase in seizures of ‘falsified’ weight loss and diabetes drug

254 units of products claiming to contain semaglutide were seized between January and September, compared to just 32 units in all of 2022.

THE HEALTH WATCHDOG has reported a dramatic increase in seizures of fake or “falsified” medications claiming to contain semaglutide, which is found in weight-loss and diabetes drugs.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has today issued a reminder of the serious health risks associated with sourcing prescription medicines online.

Figures released by the HPRA show that 254 units of products claiming to contain Semaglutide were seized between January and September.

This compares to just 32 units in the entirety of 2022.

Semaglutide is the active substance in products such as Ozempic and Wegovy.

Ozempic was originally developed as a diabetes medication but can also be used as a weight loss drug.  

Wegovy is also approved for managing overweight and obesity.

The products detained so far this year include vials of white powder or clear liquid labelled as containing semaglutide, as well as boxed pens being presented as a generic version of the product.

The HPRA has expressed “concern” that these “falsified products are being sold online by unscrupulous parties”.

The health watchdog has issued a reminder that “prescription medicines purchased online can contain harmful substances or incorrect dosages, thereby threatening your health and the effectiveness of any essential treatment you require”.

Grainne Power, Director of Compliance with the HPRA, remarked: “Despite how they may be promoted or presented, it is not safe to purchase prescription medicines online and doing so puts your health at risk.”

Power also appealed in particular to members of the public who may be considering purchasing products online claiming to contain semaglutide or presented as Ozempic, Rybelsus or Wegovy.

“The semaglutide products that we have detained, including generic versions of pens as well as vials containing powder, are all falsified medicines,” said Power.

“We have no information on where they were sourced or under what conditions they were manufactured.

“There is actually no authorised version of semaglutide in powder form and any product of this nature promoted online is fake or falsified.

“Likewise, there are no generic forms of semaglutide and any product of this nature promoted online is again fake or falsified.”

Power added that there is no way of knowing what these products actually contain or the strength of any dose that may be provided.

“They could represent a serious risk to your health,” said Power.

She urged consumers to “source their prescription medicines through the standard practice of accessing a prescription from your doctor, which is dispensed through your local pharmacy”.

Power also cautioned that “moving outside of this legal supply route presents a real risk to your health”.

She appealed for anyone using semaglutide products that have been purchased online to stop using them immediately and contact a medical professional if they have concerns regarding their health.

Members of the public can report suspicious activities around the supply of semaglutide and other health products to the HPRA by emailing reportacase@hpra.ie or by calling 01 634 3871 or 01 634 3431.

Further information for consumers on the dangers of purchasing medicines online is available here at the HPRA website.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last week issued an alert about fake injection pens of Ozempic that are circulating in Europe.

Pre-filled pens falsely labelled as Ozempic have been identified at some wholesalers in the EU and UK, according to the EMA.

The counterfeit pens have labels in German and originated from wholesalers in Austria and Germany.

However, the HPRA today confirmed that these pens have not been detected on the Irish market at this time.

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