Warning over fake semaglutide

Matt Woodley

26/05/2023 3:48:16 PM

Counterfeit products are being illegally imported into Australia, TGA testing has revealed.

Graphic representing online scam
The TGA has said people should be wary of online offers promoting semaglutide.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued a warning after it recently identified two products imported into Australia that had been wrongly advertised as semaglutide.
According to the TGA, laboratory testing confirmed that the following two products did not contain the GLP1-RA as labelled:

  • Global Health Pharmaceuticals and Therapeutics branded Semaglutide 5 mg vial
  • Peptides Lab branded Semaglutide 10 mg vial
‘These results serve as a warning to consumers to avoid buying semaglutide products from unverified online sellers, as they may not contain the active ingredient,’ the TGA warning states.
‘Counterfeit products may also contain other undeclared and hazardous ingredients that could cause serious risk to the health and safety of consumers. They also may not meet manufacturing quality and safety standards and have unknown contaminants.’
The new alert comes after the medicines regulator issued a separate warning in March regarding online scams. At the time, there were reports of companies failing to deliver the medication to customers who paid for it in full, while others received a product that was not in fact semaglutide.
Global supplies have been strained since May 2022, as the drug’s popularity skyrocketed in the wake of celebrities and social media influencers promoting it as a weight loss medication.
The surge in demand meant patients with diabetes could not access the medication due to extreme shortages, and while some stock returned in February, supplies remain intermittent, leading customers to seek out alternatives.
However, the TGA has pointed out that no generic semaglutide alternatives exist, saying patients should be wary of online offers promoting the drug.
‘In Australia, it is illegal to advertise prescription-only medicine to the public. This means that if you see advertising for Ozempic or semaglutide, it is illegal and likely represents a counterfeit product or a scam,’ the regulator stated.
‘The manufacture of semaglutide is complex and requires specialised equipment. Currently, legitimate products are only manufactured by Novo Nordisk … the sole manufacturer of Ozempic and Wegovy and the patent holder of semaglutide.’  
The TGA also reminded consumers that it does not endorse any overseas websites advertised as supporting the Personal Importation Scheme.
‘Any websites that make this statement should be approached with extreme caution,’ the release stated.
‘Advertisers are prohibited from using a government logo or implying that any government body – including a foreign government agency – endorses a therapeutic good and must not use terms like “TGA approved” in therapeutic goods advertising, including on labels or packaging.’
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Ozempic semaglutide TGA Therapeutic Goods Administration

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