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FDA warns about Ozempic counterfeits, seizes thousands of fake drugs

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Federal officials are urging Ozempic users to check the legitimacy of their medications because of counterfeit versions of the popular diabetes drug that have been sold through legitimate sources. 

The Food and Drug Administration has seized "thousands of units" of counterfeit Ozempic 1 milligram injections in an investigation that is ongoing, it said Thursday in a consumer alert. The drugs have been linked to five reports of illness, but none of the cases were serious, the notice shows.

Counterfeit Ozempic drugs are identifiable by the numbers on their cartons.  U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Ozempic products with lot number NAR0074 and serial number 430834149057 on the box are counterfeit products and should not be used, the FDA warned.

The bogus drugs' ingredients, quality and safety are not yet known, the FDA said. Ozempic-maker Novo Nordisk and the FDA are testing the seized products, according to the notice. 

The illegitimate products come with pen labels, cartons, fact sheets and needles that are also counterfeit, the notice shows. The needles pose an infection risk to consumers because it remains unclear whether or not they are sterile, Novo Nordisk said Thursday in a statement. 

Ozempic has been in short supply this year as celebrities touted the drug's slimming side effects, fueling public interest in the product.

Amid the shortages, fraudsters have sold illegitimate Ozempic-like products to pharmacies, masquerading as medical wholesaler employees. It remains unclear whether the fakes are authentic products that are being diverted from foreign markets or whether they are being produced by scammers within the U.S.

The FDA last month revealed three people had been hospitalized after taking suspected counterfeit products containing semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic. 

The FDA is advising retail pharmacies to buy authentic Ozempic only through authorized distributors and for patients to get it only through state-licensed pharmacies. 

Consumers can report suspect Ozempic packages by calling 800-332-1088 or by contacting a state complaint coordinator.

The Associated Press contributed reporting. 

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