The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) released a new RogueRx Activity Report, Injectable Weight Loss Drugs: How Illegal Online Drug Sellers Are Taking Advantage of Patients, which explores how bad actors are taking advantage of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 agonist) medications “going viral.” This class of drugs, including semaglutide, liraglutide, and tirzepatide, is used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity. Among patients, these drugs are commonly known for promoting weight loss. Unfortunately, because of the drugs’ popularity, criminals have seized the opportunity to illegally sell the drugs online, putting patients at risk.

These GLP-1 agonists are in high demand by patients; however, they are expensive and often not covered by insurance. In addition, some dosages of these approved drugs are on Food and Drug Administration’s Drug Shortage List, meaning that the available supply cannot meet the current demand. As a result, some patients go online to find these popular medications. Illegal online sellers are exploiting this demand by offering substandard and falsified GLP-1 agonists to vulnerable patients. According to the Partnership for Safe Medicines, substandard and falsified Ozempic® has been found in at least 16 countries to date. In the report, NABP highlights the methods illegal actors use to sell substandard or falsified GLP-1 agonists:

  • Criminals sell these drugs online without requiring a valid prescription and without the required pharmacy licenses. 
  • Some bad actors trick purchasers by mimicking legal sellers’ websites, branding, or packaging. 
  • Others employ a non-delivery scheme, meaning patients never receive the goods they pay for online. 
  • Sellers may also try to skirt enforcement by advertising drugs as “peptides” with claims that they are for “research purposes only” and “not for human consumption.” 

Government agencies around the world are actively investigating illegal sellers, and online marketplaces and e-advertising platforms are working to remove illegal drug sellers from their platforms. NABP applauds the efforts of these agencies and organizations.

Patients are encouraged to visit NABP’s Safe Pharmacy website for resources, such as the Safe Site Search Tool, to help protect them when purchasing medication online. Learn how you can warn patients against illegal online sellers of GLP-1 agonists by reading the RogueRx Activity Report.

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