Grateful thanks to the MHRA for their contribution to our radio report (see bottom of this page to hear again) and podcast(click here.) For more information see below or click here to visit the MHRA website.
With losing weight being one of our three top New Year Resolutions, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are warning the public not to buy pre-filled pens (so called ‘Skinny Jabs’), claiming to contain Ozempic (semaglutide) or Saxenda (liraglutide) via non legitimate sources but to consult a healthcare professional qualified to prescribe medicines and obtain a prescription.
Semaglutide and liraglutide are prescription only medicines. Saxenda (liraglutide), is authorised in the UK for weight loss, with diet and exercise. Ozempic (semaglutide) has been authorised for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes, also with diet and exercise. It is not authorised for weight loss, but it is used off-label for that purpose.
In 2023 we saw a boom of these prescription only medicines being offered for sale through non legitimate sources, fuelled by online influencers on the likes of Tik Tok/Facebook et al.
The MHRA has seized hundreds potentially fake Ozempic pens since January 2023, and has also received reports of fake Saxenda pens that have been obtained by members of the public in the UK through non-legitimate routes (any route that does not require a prescription from a qualified prescribing healthcare professional – this mainly revolves around online trade through websites and social media but there are also certain beauty salons illegally selling these jabs).
Buying prescription-only medicines online without a prescription poses a direct danger to health (it’s like playing Russian roulette!). The MHRA has received reports of people who have been hospitalised after using potentially fake weight loss pens/jabs. (With any medicines bought outside of the legal supply chain, the contents may not match the ingredients on the label. Serious side effects reported of those hospitalised, including hypoglycaemic shock and coma, indicate that the pens may contain insulin rather than semaglutide.)
The MHRA are urging anyone who has a concern about their health, that they should visit their GP or pharmacist, get a correct diagnosis and if medicines are prescribed, obtain them from a legitimate source.
If you suspect that you’ve had a side effect to semaglutide, liraglutide or any other medicine, or suspect it’s not a genuine product, you can report it to the Yellow Card scheme.
MHRA safety advice when buying medicines online
Be careful when buying medicines online
Medicines are not ordinary consumer goods and their sale and supply is tightly controlled. Websites operating outside the legal supply chain may seem tempting, for example, offering a prescription medicine without a prescription. Not only are these sites breaking the law – they’re putting your health at risk.
All pharmacies in Great Britain, including those online, must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council ( GPhC) and meet their standards for registered pharmacies
Criminals use a variety of techniques to sell medicines illegally online. Some are sold using websites designed to look like legitimate pharmacies or online retailers, while others might be advertised via online marketplaces or social media sites.
Visit the #FakeMeds website for tools and resources to help people purchase medicines or medical devices safely online.
Listen to this weeks radio report
All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.