The BVI Ministry of Health and Social Development is advising the public to be aware of counterfeit Ozempic® injections, sometimes known as Faux-Zempic. This follows similar warnings in North American and Europe.
Chief of Drugs and Pharmaceutical Services, Mrs. Gracia Wheatley-Smith said that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory bodies around the world have issued warnings about counterfeit/falsif after cases of hospitalisation where patients reported seizures, super-low blood sugar levels, shock and coma after taking the fake shots.
According to the Chief of Drugs the ingredient in the counterfeit pen is insulin and not the correct active pharmaceutical ingredient semaglutide.
Ozempic® is a prescription only medicine used to treat inadequately controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus, however it is also prescribed for its off label use for weight loss.
This high demand for Ozempic® from both diabetics and people who want to lose weight has made a black market for the counterfeit manufacturers as customer demand is now surpassing the production capacity of the manufacturer of Ozempic® and the price is soaring.
“The counterfeiters are not using the correct active ingredient and this has resulted in hospitalisation of persons seeking to use the pen for their medical condition,” the Chief of Drugs said.
Earlier this month, the European Medicines Agency also warned that fake Ozempic pens were being sold throughout the European Union and the UK.
Websites such as Facebook and TikToc have been criticized for not promptly removing advertising for the product. The manufacturers Novo Nordisk say that the real drug is not available online.
An example of a fake pen posted by German regulators showed several differences from the real product, including different colors, lack of visible Ozempic branding, and additional numbering printed on the fake version. The regulators warned that “it cannot be ruled out that the counterfeit is being sold in Germany.”
The Ministry of Health is asking the individuals who have been prescribed this medicine and have not purchased it locally to refrain from purchasing it over the internet as Ozempic® is a prescription only medicine and the products available on the internet are extremely likely to be fakes.
“Legal mail order pharmacies are only authorised to sell over-the-counter products and therefore will not sell the original Ozempic®”, she explained.
The Chief of Drugs and Pharmaceutical Services is encouraging everyone to purchase their medications from pharmacies and health facilities licenced by the Virgin Islands Government to conduct pharmaceutical service in the BVI.
Persons are also advised never to take medicines that are not prescribed for them in order to minimise experiencing side effects or adverse reactions of the medicine.
Source: BVI GIS.