Knockoff versions of popular diabetes and obesity drugs such as Mounjaro and Zepbound by Eli Lilly and Ozempic and Wegovy by Novo Nordisk have been circulating globally on a large scale for a while now. 

In response, both companies have filed lawsuits against wellness centers and medical spas for selling and advertising these counterfeits.

Most recently, in an open letter, Eli Lilly issued a warning for consumers against these drugs. According to both companies, the high demand for these drugs has caused massive shortages, leading to the rise of black and grey markets for these products. Drugs sold there have proven to be harmful to consumers.

In its letter, Eli Lilly also reiterated that these drugs were never intended for cosmetic weight loss purposes. The company firmly believes that only people suffering from diabetes, obesity, or any other relevant medical condition should be using the drugs.

Eli Lilly expressed special concern about the online proliferation of fake versions of its products, noting that they have never sold genuine Mounjaro or Zepbound on social media. The company further explained that products labeled “not for human consumption” or “research purposes only” should never be used by consumers.

Regarding Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic and weight-loss treatment Wegovy, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns about altered batches of these products in three countries.

In warnings issued by the agency, it identified three altered batches of the drugs containing falsified semaglutides in the U.S., UK, and Brazil. Semaglutide is the active ingredient used by Novo Nordisk in the preparation of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

Falsified products can be harmful to consumers, as they may lack necessary raw components, leading to health complications due to unmanaged blood glucose levels or weight issues.

While an increasing number of reports have been received by the WHO from all three countries since 2022, it was only after the confirmation of some of these reports that the organization was able to send out the first official notice.

Apart from fake and counterfeit drugs, the issue of compounding pharmacies is also plaguing big pharma companies like Eli Lilly. Although these entities are legally allowed to operate amid medicinal shortages, the Food and Drug Administration is concerned that they are manufacturing sub-standard products. 

Eli Lilly revealed that testing conducted by them on some of the compounded versions of their popular drugs revealed issues with efficacy, safety, and sterility. In fact, compared to the company’s own FDA-approved medication, some of these compounded versions had a completely different chemical structure or color. Moreover, some contained high levels of impurities and even bacteria. In one particular case, the compounded drug tested was nothing more than sugar alcohol.

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