WHO Warns Users To Be Careful Of Fake Batches Of Ozempic

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday issued warnings on three falsified batches of Ozempic, which claim to contain the active ingredient found in Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug and weight-loss treatment Wegovy.

Ozempic has become extremely popular in all parts of the world, including the Middle East. It’s demand has far outstripped its supply.

A WHO alert said three falsified batches of Ozempic (semaglutide) was supplied in the regulated supply chain and has been detected in Brazil (October 2023), the United Kingdom (October 2023), and the United States of America (December 2023).

Novo Nordisk confirmed to the WHO that the three products are falsified and not manufactured by the Danish drugmaker. These include batch number LP6F832; batch number NAR0074 with serial number 430834149057, and batch number MP5E511, which is genuine, but the product is falsified.

Ozempic is prepared from a group of medicines called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) inhibitors that are indicated for the treatment of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults, adolescents, and children over 12 years of age.

In May this year, Novo Nordisk said sales within Diabetes and Obesity care increased by 25 percent in Danish kroner to DKK61.0 billion ($8.73 billion), mainly driven by GLP-1 diabetes sales growth of 30 percent and Obesity care growing by 41 percent.

A WHO statement said it had “previously communicated the need for diligence by national regulators on some of these batches and similar GLP-1 agonist products in general”.

The organisation said the use of fake Ozempic may pose serious risks to health because of its subcutaneous injection administration that could be life-threatening.

It also advised healthcare professionals, regulatory authorities and the public that any incident of adverse effects, lack of effectiveness and suspected falsification must be reported to the concerned authorities.

Semaglutide is not a WHO-recommended treatment for diabetes management due to its current high cost, and Novo Nordisk is facing the heat in the US. Senator Bernie Sanders has alleged that the company is “ripping off American people” by charging 10-15 times more in the country.

Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen has agreed to testify in September over the issue.

Ways to identify falsified products

Advising caution against the use of falsified drug, WHO has urged consumers to do the following…

  1. WHO advises to check the Lot Number and Serial Number and not to distribute, use, or sell products labelled with batch numbers that are listed in Annex on its website.
  2. Falsified Ozempic pens may have a scale extending out from the pen when setting the dose, so the pens should be carefully examined.
  3. The label on these products might be of poor quality and may not adhere well to the pen.
  4. The carton may have spelling mistakes on the front of the box.


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