Illegal Ozempic Shipments Are Coming Into US, Says CBP

Washington: Customs and Border Protection (CBP in the US says it is regularly intercepting shipments of counterfeit and otherwise illegal versions of Novo Nordisk’s diabetes therapy Ozempic, as consumers in the US clamour to get their hands on the drug.

Ozempic (semaglutide) – a lower-dose version of Novo Nordisk’s obesity medicine Wegovy – has developed what amounts to a cult following around the world thanks to its ability to help people lose weight, and that in turn is driving a black market for the drug.

At DHL Express’ main sortation hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport alone, CBP has seized 11 shipments since February with a value of almost $900,000 at US prices.

Each shipment originated in Colombia and were destined for addresses in New York, Massachusetts, and Texas, and most of the shipments held around 100 pre-filled injection pens. They are believed to have been destined for sale through online pharmacies, which CBP says often do not comply with US pharmacy standards.

According to CBP, the Ozempic supplies may have been genuine but cannot be imported into the US without going through the proper steps and presenting the required documentation. It is also possible that those trying to inveigle the autoinjectors into the supply chain in this manner might be tempted to add counterfeit versions into the mix.

Either way, without a legitimate chain of custody, use of the drugs could pose health risks to consumers, according to the agency. Risks posed by using medications from unfamiliar sources include unknown ingredients, unusual side effects, and lack of effectiveness of the product.

“Prescription drugs that are smuggled from outside the US, particularly injectable products that should be sterile, can present a serious health risk to those who use them,” commented Dan Solis, FDA assistant commissioner for import operations.

“The drugs have not undergone the proper import processes and may contain unknown or dangerous ingredients.”

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