FDA issues warning about dangerous Ozempic ‘cocktails’ that are making people sick — as rogue pharmacies cash in on shortage of weight-loss shot
Health officials have issued a health warning over the rise of black market Ozempic being sold by online pharmacies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of adverse effects from people using semaglutide – the active ingredients in Ozempic and Wegovy – created by compounding pharmacies.
These pharmacies are usually used to create custom-made drugs for patients with special needs, who may have severe allergies to some ingredients.
But some direct-to-consumer companies or the pharmacies themselves are now selling compounded semaglutide to cash in on the shortage of Wegovy and Ozempic, which has been going on for months as the drugs continue to make headlines for fueling amazing weight-loss transformations.
The drugs work by mimicking the action of a hormone to help someone feel full and reduce their calorie intake. But they are in shortage amid a surge in public interest
Pictured above is Khalin Grant, 41, from Florida, who lost 75lbs in seven months while taking weekly injections of Wegovy. She says she now fits into smaller dress sizes than when she was in college
The drugs spiraled into shortage amid rocketing demand for the injections which can help someone achieve weight loss.
More than five million prescriptions of the drugs, alongside Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro, were written last year, which was a 21-fold surge from 230,000 in 2019.
To meet surging demand Novo Nordisk, which manufactures the drugs, has opened more and more production lines.
But amid the shortages pharmacies have been allowed to mix their own versions of the drug, in a process known as compounding.
In their alert, the FDA warned that these compounded drugs should be avoided if the approved versions of the drug were available.
It said side effects had been reported in relation to the drugs, but did not detail what these were. Semaglutide is known, however, to cause a range of side effects including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and constipation.
The agency also said it had received reports of some pharmacies using salt versions of the drug — semaglutide sodium and semaglutide acetate.
It said this differs from the active ingredient used in the approved drugs, which only contain the base form of semaglutide.
The agency said: ‘Patients should be aware that some products sold as “semaglutide” may not contain the same active ingredient as FDA-approved semaglutide products.
‘Products containing these salts, such as semaglutide sodium and semaglutide acetate, have not been shown to be safe and effective.’
It added: ‘Purchasing medicine online from unregulated, unlicensed sources can expose patients to potentially unsafe products that have not undergone appropriate evaluation or approval, or do not meet quality standards.’
Ozempic and Wegovy both use the same drug, semaglutide, which works by mimicking the action of a hormone making someone feel full.
This leads to someone consuming fewer calories and, as a result, prompts weight loss in patients.
Both drugs have been approved for patients with type 2 diabetes, but only Wegovy has also been cleared to help with weight loss in obese patients.
Many doctors are prescribing the drugs off-label to patients for weight loss, however, which is behind the shortage in the US.