FDA warns about weight-loss drug scams

The recent popularity of weight-loss drugs promoted by pharmaceutical companies, such as Novo Nordisk (NVO) and Eli Lilly (LLY), has given rise to a stream of online scams or clinics operating under false advertising. Yahoo Finance Health Reporter Anjalee Khemlani explains the FDA warnings issued about these weight-loss scams and which details buyers should be wary of.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Let’s turn our attention now to the latest craze taking over the healthcare industry. We’re, of course, talking about weight loss drugs. While their popularity and success so far is helping lift the companies that manufacture them, there are growing concerns about a number of scams. Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani is here with the details. Anjalee.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Thanks, Akiko. Yeah. So we know, of course, that these drugs are so popular that they’re creating unprecedented demand for them, including putting them on the FDA shortage list. So what are we talking about? We’re talking about Wegovy and Ozempic. Those are the weight loss and diabetes drugs from Novo Nordisk as well as Mounjaro from Eli Lilly.

The active ingredients in those drugs is what’s of interest right now, semaglutide, the most popular one. Of course, we’ll use that as an example. If you just Google, you will find hundreds of thousands of offers, whether it is for medical spas, telehealth activity, or any other outlet. And so that’s where the concern is. There have been FDA notifications and warnings about these. The Wall Street Journal also reporting that they tried to dig into some of these offers, including labs that claim to be selling these for research.

So where is it authorized and not authorized? Let’s review that for a second. You’ve got the doctor’s office and some telehealth companies as well as some compounding companies. I’m going to get into that in a second. You’ve also got these areas where you’re getting offers for what may not be the original Ozempic or Wegovy Mounjaros. And those are MediSpas weight loss clinics, those research chemical Sellers who say that they’re selling it for a research or for laboratory use, and supplement companies. None of these are likely to have the specific prescription. And they offer these drugs without prescription, which is a key flag to look out for.

And so in this frenzy, what we’ve seen is sort of this black market coming up at a time when there’s also a shortage. And that’s created a lot of concern for the FDA. They’ve put semaglutide on the FDA shortage list, which means that some compounding pharmacies can, in fact, and are authorized to produce them. We’ve also seen, though, Novo Nordisk go after some of those pharmacies, as well as those weight-loss clinics that are offering without or even with prescription but for compounded formulations. There are home kits being offered. As well as a notice about not semaglutide itself, but, in fact, a variation of it being put into formulas. We’ve also seen some of those with B12, for example. Some of those MedSpas saying we’ve got semaglutide with B12.

So all of these are likely scams, a lot of them are, especially if they’re mixed this way. And so it’s something to be on the lookout for if you’re trying to get your hands on those products. Right now, there is such a shortage of them that even these drugmakers have stopped advertising them. And yet we’ve seen the proliferation of ads, you know, everywhere you go. So it’s something to look out for and really is causing a problem for the companies as well as the regulatory body.

SEANA SMITH: Certainly very important to be aware of. All right, Anjalee Khemlani, thanks.


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