Beware of Counterfeit Weight-Loss and Diabetes Medications

Counterfeit Weight-Loss  Meds

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. are alerting the public about the proliferation of fake versions of popular weight-loss and diabetes medications.

Semaglutides, a class of drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes and obesity, have been targeted by counterfeiters. Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Ozempic contain semaglutide and have seen numerous fake versions reported worldwide since 2022, according to the WHO.

In a recent open letter, Eli Lilly expressed deep concern over the increase in online sales and social media promotions of counterfeit or compounded versions of tirzepatide, the active ingredient in their Mounjaro and Zepbound medications. The company emphasized that it is the only authorized supplier of these drugs and does not distribute tirzepatide to compounding pharmacies, wellness centers, or online retailers.

Hundreds of websites are reportedly selling counterfeit Ozempic, and the situation is expected to worsen, according to medical experts. The WHO advises patients to only purchase medications through prescriptions from licensed physicians and to avoid buying from unfamiliar sources.

Lilly reiterated that any product marketed as tirzepatide that isn’t Mounjaro or Zepbound was not manufactured by them and is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Similarly, Novo Nordisk has previously issued warnings regarding counterfeit versions of their drugs.

Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy are approved by Health Canada, but the issue of counterfeit drugs remains a significant and growing problem. Experts warn that the demand for these medications will likely continue to fuel the counterfeit drug market, posing serious health risks to patients.

Implications of Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit medications are not only ineffective but can also be dangerous. They may contain incorrect doses, harmful ingredients, or no active ingredients at all, leading to severe health risks or even death. Patients relying on these medications for diabetes or weight loss management could face dire consequences if they unknowingly consume counterfeit drugs.

Consumer Safety Measures

The WHO and Eli Lilly urge consumers to be vigilant. Patients should:

  1. Purchase from Licensed Pharmacies: Always buy medications from reputable and licensed pharmacies.
  2. Verify Prescriptions: Ensure prescriptions are issued by licensed healthcare providers.
  3. Avoid Online Retailers: Be cautious of purchasing medications online, especially from unverified sources.
  4. Check Packaging: Look for signs of tampering or unusual packaging, which could indicate a counterfeit product.
  5. Report Suspicious Products: Report any suspected counterfeit medications to health authorities.

Future Outlook

The ongoing battle against counterfeit drugs requires global cooperation and stringent measures. Pharmaceutical companies, regulatory agencies, and healthcare providers must work together to safeguard the supply chain and protect patients. Enhanced surveillance, stricter regulations, and public awareness campaigns are crucial in combating the counterfeit drug crisis.

The WHO continues to monitor the situation and collaborate with international partners to address this pressing issue. Patients are encouraged to stay informed and take proactive steps to ensure their medications’ authenticity and safety.