Payam Javan: In Austria, a number of individuals have been hospitalized due to suspected counterfeit versions of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic, marking the first reported harm to users amid a broader European search for counterfeiters.
The health safety regulator BASG revealed that patients suffered serious side effects such as hypoglycemia and seizures, indicating the presence of insulin instead of Ozempic’s active ingredient.
The Austrian criminal investigation service warned of potentially circulating fake injection pens, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had previously issued a warning about falsely labeled Ozempic pens. Novo Nordisk, the Danish manufacturer, acknowledged a surge in online offers for counterfeit Ozempic and its weight-loss drug Wegovy, both based on semaglutide, and emphasized efforts to address the issue. BASG suggested that criminal organizations are exploiting drug shortages to introduce fake Ozempic to the market. The investigation is ongoing, and the exact number of affected individuals and the duration of the adverse effects remain undisclosed. The European Union’s Medicines Verification System confirmed that, as per EMA findings, no fake products had appeared in retail pharmacies.
Authorities in Germany and Britain are also involved in investigating the case of counterfeit injection pens distributed through Austria to Germany and then to British wholesalers. BASG refrained from providing further details to safeguard the ongoing investigation.