Oct 12 (Reuters) – Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO) on Thursday warned of a rise in counterfeit versions of weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes drug Ozempic being offered for sale online, as authorities Germany provides more details on the complex counterfeit drug trafficking operations in Europe case.
“Novo Nordisk has seen a significant increase in illegal online sales,” the company said in a statement, referring to products containing the active ingredient semaglutide.
Amid the global obesity crisis, Novo became Europe’s most valuable company this year as demand for its weekly Wegovy injection and lower-dose version of Ozempic soared, but this attracted Illegal traders can endanger users’ health.
Novo’s warnings, previously reported by Danish publication Finans, are the group’s first detailed comments on the issue of counterfeit goods since a mid-June statement about fake Ozempic pens found at a store. retail medicine in the US.
The warning comes after Germany’s federal drug regulator on Wednesday urged pharmacies and drug distributors to be vigilant after discovering shipments of counterfeit Ozempic.
Prosecutors in the southwestern German town of Loerrach, near the Swiss border in Basel, said on Thursday 199 packages had been identified as counterfeit at a British drug distributor who bought the batch. goods from a company near Loerrach in September.
That company received the shipment from a peer in Austria, prosecutors said, adding that investigators were trying to find out whether any more counterfeit goods were sold in Germany. Are not.
Novo said the counterfeit shipments in the US had different serial numbers than those found in Europe. It will not comment further on the case under investigation in Germany.
In principle, they have reported every case of counterfeit goods they come across to the relevant authorities and in some cases have worked with “specialized companies to identify the perpetrators of these crimes” without naming the countries where they are doing so.
The Danish drugmaker also said it is working with a third party that monitors and takes down illegal online offers. It said it was scaling up this work in 2023 to ensure a wider reach, and declined to name the company it was working with.
In a further sign of illegal activity capitalizing on the hype surrounding weight loss drugs, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday ordered two online vendors to stop sells unapproved versions of the drug Novo and Eli Lilly (LLY.N).
In September, Lilly filed a lawsuit against US medical spas, wellness centers and compounding pharmacies for selling products claiming to contain tirzepatide, the active ingredient in the diabetes drug Mounjaro, which is expected to be will be approved for weight loss later this year.
Novo took similar legal action in July.
Compounding pharmacies combine or alter ingredients to create a medicine tailored to each patient’s needs. The FDA has warned patients against using compounded drugs if an approved drug is available.
Demand for Wegovy and Ozempic is exceeding Novo’s supply of the drugs in the United States, Germany and Britain, causing the company to limit supply of certain doses of Wegovy to the United States market.
Although only Wegovy is approved for obesity, the fact that Ozempic for diabetes also leads to significant weight loss has led people in the United States and Europe to use the drug “off label” , meaning use is not allowed.
Reporting by Maggie Fick and Ludwig Burger; Edited by Jan Harvey and Susan Fenton
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