After it became known a few weeks ago that counterfeit diabetes medications were circulating in Central Europe, such counterfeit medications have now also appeared in Austria. At least one person required hospital treatment after use.
There was recently a warning about a counterfeit diabetes medicine that was being sold in Central Europe. The Austrian Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) is now also warning against counterfeit Ozempic®, reports the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) on its website.
Counterfeits can be life-threatening
As AGES explains, the prescription drug Ozempic® (original manufacturer: Novo Nordisk) contains the active ingredient semaglutide and is approved for the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes.
Recently, however, this preparation has increasingly been used as a “weight loss aid”, for which the drug is not approved. This has resulted in limited availability of Ozempic® for diabetics.
This shortage of the drug is apparently being exploited by criminal organizations to bring counterfeits of Ozempic® onto the market.
Counterfeit medicines can be dangerous to your health. Due to the untested quality of the counterfeit medicine, possible contamination and unknown ingredients, these counterfeits can sometimes even be life-threatening.
Serious side effects
The BASG informs that there are now counterfeits of Ozempic® that have reached patients in Austria.
The BASG has received an initial report that a person had to be treated in hospital after using suspected counterfeit Ozempic®.
The reported serious side effects with hypoglycemia and seizures are an indication that the product incorrectly contained insulin instead of the active ingredient semaglutide.
Other potencies may be affected
According to current knowledge, the suspected counterfeits are Ozempic® packs with a strength of 1 mg (Ozempic 1 mg injection solution in a pre-filled pen).
The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) reports on its website about counterfeit packs with a strength of 1 mg (product code: 04150153985573; pack size of 3 pieces) with the following serialization information: serial number: 1946483405690, batch: MP5E511, expiry date: 07/2025. These were identified at the wholesale level.
Another counterfeit of 1 mg strength identified as part of the ongoing investigation, which has so far been offered to wholesalers, bears the following serialization information: Serial number: 1031002838555, batch: NP5G866, expiry date: 12/2025.
It cannot currently be ruled out that other packs with a different potency are affected.
Counterfeiting is difficult or impossible to detect on the outer packaging
According to a press release from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Integration, the counterfeit is easy to recognize visually. Two photos of the original and the counterfeit are shown in this notice.
However, the BASG assumes that there are also counterfeits of Ozempic® that look different or are not offered as pre-filled pens. The counterfeit is difficult or impossible to recognize on the outer packaging.
It is therefore important to emphasize that counterfeits that are in circulation do not necessarily only have to have these visual characteristics shown, but may also have a different appearance.
Under no circumstances should you use Patients in Austria are asked not to use Ozempic® pre-filled pens that are suspected to be counterfeit.
Suspected cases or information about possibly counterfeit products should be reported to the BASG office responsible for combating illegality (enforcement).
In Central Europe, too, it was advised not to use the counterfeits under any circumstances and to take them to a pharmacy immediately. (ad)