Public Health

Ozempic, Wegovy knockoffs subject of Novo Nordisk suit

In this photo illustration, boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic rest on a pharmacy counter on April 17, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

Novo Nordisk on Tuesday sued five medical spas and wellness clinics for allegedly selling cheaper, unauthorized versions of the company’s weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.

The Danish drugmaker initiated the lawsuits in federal courts in New York, Texas, Florida and Tennessee, according to complaints obtained by CNBC.

The suits accused the spas and clinics of marketing and selling “compounded” drug products that claim to contain semaglutide, the active ingredient in both Ozempic and Wegovy. Compounded drugs are custom-made versions of a treatment that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Novo Nordisk is the sole patent holder of semaglutide and does not sell that ingredient to outside entities. It’s unclear what the spas and clinics are actually selling to consumers.

Novo Nordisk asked the courts for orders blocking the sales of the unauthorized drugs and an unspecified amount of money damages.

“These unlawful marketing and sales practices, including the use of Novo Nordisk trademarks in connection with these practices, have created a high risk of consumer confusion and deception as well as potential safety concerns,” the company wrote in a press release Tuesday.

The spas and clinics named in the lawsuits include Pro Health Investments, Champion Health & Wellness Clinics and Flawless Image Medical Aesthetics.

It also includes Effinger Health, which operates as Nuvida Rx Weight Loss, and Ekzotika Corp., which is doing business as Cosmetic Laser Professionals Med Spa. The latter clinic offers a $30 Groupon for a one-week “semaglutide weight management program.”

The spas and clinics didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

The suits come amid a shortage of Wegovy and Ozempic, which has led to a boom in compounded alternatives that claim to be the popular injections.

The FDA last month warned about the safety risks of unauthorized versions of Ozempic and Wegovy after reports emerged of adverse health reactions to compounded versions of the drugs.

Several states have also threatened to take legal action against compounding pharmacies that make or distribute unapproved variations of Novo Nordisk’s weight loss treatments.

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