Rising Popularity of Weight-Loss Drugs Raises Concerns About Counterfeit Versions

Published on November 7, 2023, 1:04 am

Rising Popularity of Weight-Loss Drugs Raises Concerns About Counterfeit Versions

The popularity of weight-loss drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy is on the rise, but with this surge in demand comes concerns about counterfeit versions flooding the market. Health officials are warning consumers to be extra cautious when filling their prescriptions for these drugs.

Originally prescribed for type 2 diabetes, Ozempic and Wegovy have gained popularity as weight loss aids. The main ingredient in these drugs, semaglutide, helps suppress appetite and reduce feelings of hunger.

One individual who has experienced success with Wegovy is Nicole Morse from Nashville. She had been struggling with weight loss for years but found that other methods were ineffective. Since starting the drug in July, she has lost 18 pounds. Morse shared, “The biggest thing is that you don’t want to eat. You’re not hungry.”

Projections suggest that within the next decade, approximately 7% of the US population (equivalent to 24 million people) could be taking these weight-loss drugs. However, there is now growing concern about counterfeit versions infiltrating the market.

Al Carter, the executive director for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, acknowledged that medications like Ozempic and Wegovy generate intense interest due to their potential for aiding weight loss and managing diabetes.

Part of the issue lies in the popularity and high demand for these drugs. Currently listed on the FDA’s drug shortage list, Ozempic and similar medications become susceptible to counterfeit production due to limited supply.

Dr. Susan Spratt from Duke University explained that when a drug becomes scarce, opportunists seize the chance to profit illicitly by producing fake versions containing unknown substances. This phenomenon has been observed before with medications such as Viagra and ADHD drugs.

Carter emphasized the risks associated with purchasing unverified products online, stating, “You don’t know what you’re getting… We’ve seen products that have drywall, antifreeze—poisons that could kill you or harm you—being put in these medications.”

To ensure your safety, Carter advised consumers to avoid purchasing Ozempic and similar drugs online. Instead, it is recommended to obtain a proper prescription from your healthcare provider and visit reputable pharmacies.

Diana Isaacs, an endocrine clinical pharmacist from Cleveland Clinic, highlighted some red flags to watch out for when receiving these drugs. Foreign writing or discrepancies in color or shape could indicate a counterfeit product. She also recommended visiting the manufacturer’s website to compare the appearance of the drug with provided images.

In light of these concerns, it is crucial to be vigilant when seeking weight-loss medications like Ozempic and Wegovy. By adhering to these precautions, consumers can protect themselves from potentially harmful counterfeit versions of the drugs.