Several people in Austria have been hospitalized after using suspected fake versions of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic. These patients experienced severe side effects, including hypoglycemia and seizures, suggesting that the counterfeit product contained insulin instead of Ozempic’s active ingredient, semaglutide.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) had previously issued a warning about the existence of fake injection pens falsely labeled as Ozempic. Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of the drug, had already reported a surge in online offers of counterfeit Ozempic.
The shortage of the genuine product appeared to be exploited by criminal organizations to bring counterfeit Ozempic to the market, according to the health safety regulator BASG in Austria.
Novo Nordisk is investigating these cases and reporting every counterfeit case that comes to its attention. The company has been working to monitor and take down illegal online offers and conduct physical investigations when warranted.
The exact number of individuals harmed by the fake Ozempic and the long-term effects on their health were not specified in the report. Investigations are ongoing to address this issue, and authorities are working to track down counterfeiters. The European Union’s Medicines Verification System confirmed that no fake Ozempic products had emerged in retail pharmacies.
Authorities in Germany and the UK, including prosecutors in Germany, have been investigating a case in which counterfeit injection pens with German labels were sold from a wholesaler in Austria to Germany and then to two British wholesalers. The investigations into this case are ongoing.
Please note that the situation may have developed further since the information in this report.