Counterfeit Weight Loss Injection Pens Pose Health Risks in the UK

Vicky Eldridge
By Vicky Eldridge

Vicky Eldridge is an award-winning journalist, editor and copywriter, with 18 years’ experience in aesthetics.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has taken action against a rising threat to public health in the United Kingdom, seizing 369 potentially fake Ozempic weight loss injection pens since the beginning of the year. Concerns have been raised as a small number of individuals have been hospitalised due to complications believed to be associated with these illicit weight loss pens obtained through ‘non-legitimate routes.’

Dr Alison Cave, the Chief Safety Officer of the MHRA, has emphasised the dangers of acquiring such products without a prescription. “Buying these products without proper medical oversight poses a direct danger to health,” she warned. Cave highlighted that serious side effects, including hypoglycemic shock and coma, have been reported among those hospitalised, suggesting that the counterfeit pens may contain insulin rather than the intended semaglutide.

The European Medicines Agency has joined the investigation, confirming the presence of counterfeit Ozempic products in the market. Counterfeiters have gone to great lengths, copying batch numbers, barcodes, and unique serial numbers directly from genuine packaging. However, consumers are urged to be vigilant as the actual packaging of the fake pens may vary in colour, with some having a clear lid instead of the authentic grey.

Former UK Health Minister Will Quince expressed his concerns, stating, “No one should put profit before the needs of patients, but fraudsters selling black market medicines like this are extremely dangerous and can put people’s health at risk.” Quince stressed the importance of adhering to medical advice, asserting that patients should only use medicines like Ozempic or Saxenda if prescribed by a legitimate source, such as their GP or another qualified prescriber.

The MHRA continues to investigate the origins and distribution networks of these counterfeit weight-loss pens, urging the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious products. As the investigation unfolds, authorities are working to ensure the safety of the public and eliminate these potentially harmful counterfeit medicines from circulation.

Example of falsified pen on top and a genuine Novo Nordisk pen on the bottom.

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