Warning over 'fake' Wegovy as its sold on social media to fill demand

Warning over ‘fake’ Wegovy as opportunistic sellers flood social media to fill demand as UK officially launched the fat-busting jab

  • Facebook adverts list weight loss jabs without the need for a prescription
  • Pharmacists warn these ‘fake’ weight loss drugs are ‘dangerous’ and unregulated
  • Experts warn that Wegovy is used in the wrong way could cause organ damage 

Pharmacists are warning people to not buy weight loss jabs, like Wegovy, online over concerns they could cause serious harm and ‘damage major organs’. 

Adverts selling ‘weight loss pens’ and ‘skinny jabs’ have flooded social media in response to huge demand from Brits.

While the drug officially launched yesterday a global shortage means suppliers are extremely limited.  

Pharmacists warned these are almost certainly ‘illegitimate’ and ‘fake’ drugs, that could even be dangerous to health.

MailOnline found several adverts on Facebook Marketplace selling weight loss jabs claiming to contain semaglutide, the ingredient in both Wegovy and it sister medication Ozempic which is designed for diabetics. 

Sellers on Facebook Marketplace are listing weight loss jabs for sale without the need for a prescription. One seller shows an image of a fridge full of medication and lists the weight loss jabs for £130, pictured left. Another seller lists semaglutide, a drug found in both Ozempic and Wegovy, pictured right

Soaring global demand for Wegovy – sold by Danish firm Novo Nordisk under the brand name Wegovy – has meant only a proportion will be allocated to the NHS

One seller listed Ozempic for £150, another shows an image of a fridge full of weight loss medication listing ‘weight loss pens’ for £130 and another selling a ‘skinny kit’ for £185. 

Private pharmacies online list Ozempic for between £150 and £170, to buy with a prescription. 

Ozempic and Wegovy are both only available with a prescription.

The former is targeted at patients with type 2 diabetes because it lowers their blood sugar and reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes among those who also have heart disease.

Wegovy, on the other hand, is packed with a more potent dose of semaglutide and is instead targeted at overweight people.

‘Miracle’ weight loss jab Wegovy launches on the NHS in ‘limited’ supply – but private patients could have to pay up to £300 for a dose

‘Miracle’ weight loss jab Wegovy launches on the NHS in ‘limited’ supply – but private patients could have to pay up to £300 for a dose


Pharmacists are not only concerned that these drugs are being sold on social media without a prescription to people who may not need as much as others, but also that these people could be sold ‘fake’, and dangerous, products.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive at the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies urged Brits to think twice about how these sellers could have gotten their hands on a supply amid a global shortage. 

‘How on earth is it available online when we are told by the manufacturers that it is very limited? So where do they get it from?’

‘We do not know what is in these medicines, we don’t know if it is real, there is no way of knowing what is in them or what sort of dangerous materials and chemicals are in these medicines.’

Dr Hannbeck is also afraid that unscrupulous sellers could take advantage of vulnerable weight-conscious young people. 

She explained, like many medications, if drugs like Ozmepic or Wegovy are used incorrectly it could cause organ damage. 

‘It could cause all sorts of issues because we are dealing with insulin so you could have damage to your major organs, and they can shut down. It is really dangerous that this is available like this, and we don’t even know what is in them,’ she said. 

Dr Hannbeck urged parents to talk with their children about the dangers of buying products such as this online in a bid to avoid harm. 

‘Parents need to have a conversation with their kids to be careful about things sold online and just because something is available online doesn’t mean people should be using it,’ she said. 

Thorrun Govind, previous chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, is also concerned these products sold online could be ‘counterfeit’ that may contain ‘too much, too little, or none of the actual medicine’.

‘It’s concerning that people are going to the extremes of accessing this medication from unregulated sources,’ she said. 

‘You do not know how the medication has been sourced you do not know about the ingredients, this is a risk to people’s health if they go online and use these sources.’

Wegovy and Ozempic, which both contain semaglutide, work by triggering the body to produce a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals

She added: ‘As pharmacists we are highly regulated, we have to make sure that medication comes in from reputable sources and that we know the origin and we can trace it back through the supply chain if needed. 

‘There would be none of that available to those who access it via unregulated sources.’

Medicine regulators also warn that purchasing drugs online from illegal suppliers means there are no safeguards in place. 

Dr Alison Cave, MHRA Chief Safety Officer, said: ‘Buying semaglutide, or any medicinal product, from illegally trading online suppliers significantly increases the risk of getting a product which is either falsified or not licensed for use in the UK. 

‘Purchasing from illegal suppliers means there are no safeguards to ensure products meet our quality and safety standards, and taking such medicines may put your health at risk.’

Despite being hailed as one of the most powerful pharmaceutical tools to date, experts have warned it is not a ‘magic pill’ or miracle fix all. Trials have shown that users can rapidly pile pounds back on once they stop taking the drug and it can trigger a variety of nasty side effects. Users commonly complain of nausea, constipation and diarrhoea

It was announced yesterday that patients can now access the Wegovy via specialist health service weight management services.

Only Brits with a body mass index (BMI) over 30, or a BMI of more than 27 and at least one weight-related co-morbidity, are eligible – and patients must also commit to dieting and exercise plans. 

On the NHS Wegovy costs the standard prescription rate of £9.65. Many will not pay the prescription charge because the eligibility for the drug includes co-morbidity, according to the NHS. 

But the jab could cost between £199 and £299 for those with private insurance or paying out of their own pocket, for example, via UK-based online pharmacy chain Simple Online Pharmacy. 

Semaglutide has been hailed as a ‘miracle’ weight-loss drug by celebrities including Elon Musk and Jeremy Clarkson.

Meanwhile, a recent study showed it can cut the risk of heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease by a fifth in people who are overweight or obese.

The jab works by hijacking the brain to suppress people’s appetite and cut their calorie intake.

Wegovy has been shown to be effective and reduce weight by around 15 per cent when used alongside exercise and lifestyle changes.

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