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Health watchdog issues warning as fake weight-loss drugs seized in Ireland

Health watchdog issues warning as fake weight-loss drugs seized in Ireland

Fake weight-loss medications can pose serious health risks, the Health Products Regulatory Authority warns.

Niamh Griffin Health Correspondent

Seizures of fake medication claiming to contain semaglutide, also found in Ozempic and Wegovy, have shot up in Ireland from 32 units last year to 254 so far this year.

Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) director of compliance Grainne Power warned they did not know what was in the products seized and these can pose serious health risks.

This ingredient is approved in the EU for weight loss under the Wegovy brand name. Ozempic is approved for treatment of type 2 diabetes but has gained popularity as weight-loss treatment through social media.

Semaglutide is also found in Rybelsus tablets prescribed for type 2 diabetes.

“We have no information on when they were sourced or where, and under what conditions they were manufactured,” Ms Power said.

There is actually no authorised version of semaglutide in powder form and any product of this nature promoted online is fake or falsified. 

Likewise, there are no generic forms of semaglutide and any product of this nature promoted online is again fake or falsified.” 

She cautioned: “There is no way to know what these products actually contain or the strength of any dose provided.” 

She urged anyone who bought these products online to stop using them and contact medical help if they feel unwell.

Some 254 units of products claiming to contain semaglutide were detained between January and September 2023, compared to just 32 last year.

These included vials of white powder or clear liquid labelled as containing semaglutide and boxed pens presented as generic versions.

The European Medicines Agency warned last week about pre-filled pens falsely labelled as Ozempic in Austria, Germany, and the UK.

However the HPRA said those pens have not been seen in Ireland yet.

Report suspicious health products, in confidence: email: Phone: 01 634 3871 or 01 634 3431.

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