The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a global alert about fake versions of Ozempic, a drug that has gained significant popularity for weight loss. Although Ozempic is primarily prescribed for type 2 diabetes, it is sometimes referred to as a "skinny jab" due to its weight-loss effects. The WHO has warned that the fake versions of Ozempic pose significant health risks and advises patients to obtain the drug only through reputable sources like doctors rather than from dubious online sites or social media.


Ozempic contains semaglutide, which helps control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients. It also reduces appetite by signalling to the brain that the person is full, which aids in weight loss. The increasing use of Ozempic by people without diabetes for weight loss has led to shortages for diabetes patients and a surge in fake versions.


Since 2022, the WHO has been monitoring a rise in reports of fake Ozempic worldwide. Authorities in the U.K., U.S., and Brazil have seized counterfeit batches. Dr Yukiko Nakatani, WHO assistant director-general for essential medicines and health products, advised healthcare professionals, regulatory authorities, and the public to be vigilant about these fake batches. The WHO cautioned that some fake injections may not contain semaglutide or may contain other drugs like insulin, leading to unpredictable and potentially harmful effects.


In the U.K., the drugs regulator seized a batch of fake Ozempic in October last year, which had entered the country from legitimate suppliers in Austria and Germany and appeared to have authentic packaging. Dr Alison Cave, the chief safety officer, warned that purchasing semaglutide from illegal online suppliers significantly increases the risk of obtaining fake or unlicensed products, which could endanger health. A higher-strength version of Ozempic, marketed as Wegovy, has been developed specifically for weight loss and is available at specialist weight-loss clinics through the NHS in the U.K.


Source: WHO

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