Fresh warnings of fake Ozempic emerge in Europe

The authorities in Germany and Austria have warned the public to beware of counterfeit versions of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes therapy Ozempic – in German language packaging – that have been found in circulation.

Ozempic, which contains the same semaglutide active ingredient as Novo Nordisk’s obesity therapy Wegovy, has seen demand rocket as a result of data showing it can reduce weight, driving off-label use of Ozempic and – inevitably – a massive black market for the drug.

The demand – driven by social media – has been heightened by limited supplies of both drugs which have led Novo Nordisk to implement national and international sales restrictions and limited new starts on therapy.

Earlier this week, Novo Nordisk told the Danish newspaper Finans that it is seeing a spike in cases of counterfeit copies of both Ozempic and Wegovy being offered online.

“Criminal organisations have apparently taken advantage of the situation and are trying to profit from this situation in a criminal and dangerous way by counterfeiting the high-priced preparation in a way that poses a risk to health,” said Austria’s Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) yesterday.

“According to the current state of knowledge, counterfeits have been identified in packages of 1 mg strength, but it cannot be ruled out that other packages or active ingredient strengths are or will be affected,” it added. The counterfeits can be easily identified as the primary packaging is very different (see below), although the secondary packaging is hard to distinguish from genuine Ozempic.

So far, there is no evidence that the counterfeits have reached patients in Austria, according to the BASG, which reckons that they were probably intended for export outside the EU. However, the agency added that it cannot be ruled out that they may also be in distribution chains within Austria.

In Germany, meanwhile, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) said that counterfeit versions of Ozempic had been found at the wholesale level with the following pack information:

  • Batch: MP5E511, expiry date: 07/2025, serial number: 1946483405690
  • Batch: NP5G866, Expiry date: 12/2025, serial number: 1031002838555

“All pharmacists are…asked to check the primary packaging for authenticity before dispensing the medicine to patients until further notice,” said BfArM, adding that packs that trigger an alarm in the securPharm system, which was introduced to protect against counterfeit medicines, should be quarantined and the authorities informed.

Earlier this year, counterfeit versions of Ozempic were discovered in the US, as well as in Australia and Nigeria.

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