Looking to Lose Weight in 2024? Watch for Counterfeit GLP-1a Drugs

By Jessica Johnson, SIU Clinical Consultant, Prime Therapeutics/Magellan Rx

January 23, 2024

According to a recent survey by Forbes, 34 percent of Americans have made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight in 2024. And while signing-up for a gym membership or diet program remain popular options, more people are choosing to take glucagon-like peptide-1 agonist (GLP-1a) drugs for weight loss.

GLP-1a drugs are a common treatment for Type-2 diabetes, and in recent years select drugs in the class have been approved for weight loss. Utilization of these drugs as a weight loss treatment has largely been driven by social media influencers—and with more than 41% of U.S. adults identified as obese by the CDC—the demand for GLP-1a drugs for weight loss has increased.

While we have seen GLP-1a shortages in recent years, supplies have rebounded. And yet, ongoing demand for GLP-1a drugs mean that some providers may turn to other sources, or even fraudulent means, to sell to consumers.

In recent months, the FDA has been investigating claims of counterfeit GLP-1a drugs, like Ozempic. Obtaining products from unknown sources—including some online or app-based providers—may increase the chances of receiving medications that may not contain the expected ingredients, which may also lead to side effects and potential harm to users.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Purchase from a pharmacy with a U.S.-based address, phone number, and licensing information on its website
  • If purchasing from an online pharmacy, verify legitimacy through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy or safe.pharmacy
  • When you receive drugs from a provider, look for signs of any tampering or relabeling
  • Monitor for any new or unusual side effects, and if you do experience side effects, contact your primary care provider
  • Please report any suspected fraud or counterfeit GLP-1a drugs to the FDA online reporting site or the Prime/MRx Fraud Team

Are you interested in learning more about GLP-1a drugs? Listen to our Pharmacy Friends podcast, “The Skinny on GLP-1s: Part 1.” In this first episode of a two-part series, our experts discuss clinical evidence, drug information and appropriate patient selection for GLP-1a drug use. We also are proud to present a clinical perspectives report as a guide to understand the evolution of GLP-1a drugs, highlighted by our clinical position and real-world analysis that enable our clients and members to make sensible health care decisions.

And watch our blog for more tips from the Prime/MRx Special Investigations Unit.


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