After counterfeits of the diabetes drug Ozempic appeared in the wholesale trade, a federal authority intervened and asked Germany's pharmacies to check the preparations they had.
So far there is no evidence that patients have received counterfeits, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) announced on Wednesday evening in Bonn. Pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers should also open and inspect the packages.
In the authorities' photos, the original pen is light blue and the fake is dark blue, and the design is also different. On the original syringe, the injection button at the end of the syringe is gray, on the counterfeit it is blue. If suspicious packages are found, the responsible monitoring authorities must be informed.
“Significant health risks”
At the center of the investigation is a pharmaceutical wholesaler in southwest Baden-Württemberg. There is a suspicion that the company from the Lörrach district was trading in the counterfeits, the Lörrach branch of the Freiburg public prosecutor's office announced on Wednesday.
According to an advertisement from the Freiburg regional council, 199 packages originally came from an Austrian wholesaler and were delivered to another pharmaceutical dealer in Great Britain at the beginning of September 2023. There the medicines were recognized as counterfeit.
The regional council warned about the suspected counterfeit preparations at the end of last week. The counterfeits most likely posed “significant health risks.” The regional council reported that it cannot be ruled out that several counterfeit packages are being sold in Germany. There are also indications that the supply chain also affects other countries.
The public prosecutor's office is investigating
The public prosecutor's office reported that it is still being determined whether the pharmaceutical wholesaler in the southwest also marketed the allegedly counterfeit drug in Germany or delivered it to companies there. This also includes the exact sales channels and internal responsibilities. An investigation is underway in the case - the name of the company or its exact location were not mentioned. “The criminal investigation is expected to take some time,” the statement said.
“Ozempic” is a preparation based on the active ingredient semaglutide from the manufacturer Novo Nordisk. It is approved as a diabetes medication in Germany. The active ingredient can also be used as a weight loss aid, especially in people who are very overweight. In Germany, doctors have been able to prescribe the semaglutide-containing drug “Wegovy” from Novo Nordisk for this purpose since the summer. The active ingredient is also more widely known because some celebrities claim to have lost weight with it.
Novo Nordisk announced on Tuesday upon request that there was a significant increase in illegal online sales.