Pharmacy raided in Ozempic crackdown

Michelle Wisbey

4/03/2024 3:10:23 PM

A large quantity of semaglutide was seized from a Melbourne chemist as part of a TGA probe into alleged manufacturing of copycat drugs.

Basket filled with dozens of pill bottles.
The semaglutide seized at a South Yarra pharmacy in Melbourne. (Image: supplied)

Semaglutide, peptides, and human growth hormones have been seized from a South Yarra pharmacy, after authorities swooped onto the property last week.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) raided the store on Thursday, alleging the medications were unlawfully manufactured
The probe is part of an ongoing investigation into the unlawful manufacture, supply, and export of therapeutic goods, including prescription-only medication. 
TGA officers executed a search warrant on the pharmacy, with the seized items now subject to further analysis and examination.
The regulator said it held ‘serious concerns around the safety and efficacy of the medication if it were to be dispensed to the public’.
The TGA, alongside the Victorian Department of Health and the Victorian Pharmacy Authority (VPA), will assess the seized items, as their investigations continue.
It said consequences for non-compliance include financial penalties, as well as civil or criminal proceedings.
The raid comes amid escalating semaglutide (sold as Ozempic) shortages in Australia, expected to last until at least the end of this year.
The TGA has urged GPs not to initiate new patients on semaglutide unless there are no suitable alternatives or there is a compelling clinical reason to do so.
As demand for the medication skyrockets, the watchdog said it is aware of an emerging trend for providers to offer compounded semaglutide-like products.
However, it said compounded semaglutide-like products are unapproved therapeutic goods, and that the compounding of medicines should be reserved for ‘exceptional clinical circumstances’.
Head of the TGA Professor Anthony Lawler said there are serious consequences for those who break the law with respect to the import, manufacture, advertising, supply, or export of therapeutic goods.
‘It is important that pharmacists understand that they are most likely breaking the law if they are manufacturing or supplying medicines prior to receiving a prescription, except in very limited circumstances,’ he said.
‘Consumers need to understand that the safety of compounded medicines are not assessed by the TGA, and they are not subject to the same controls over the quality or efficacy of the goods when compared with medicines approved for supply in Australia.’
The TGA said patients who have concerns about medications dispensed by their pharmacy should speak to their GP first.
Those suspecting non-compliance in relation to therapeutic goods are urged to report illegal or questionable practices online to the TGA.
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