Found in 17 countries…a counterfeit drug causes health problems in Lebanon

Rita Karam, an official at the Ministry of Public Health in Lebanon, said that 11 people suffered attacks of dangerously low blood sugar this year, and that one of them was transferred to a hospital on suspicion of using an inauthentic version of the drug Ozambik, which is produced by Novo Nordisk for diabetics.

Rita added that officials suspected that the medications they took were fraudulent after discovering that their doses differed from those of the original Ozambik injection pens.

Reuters interviews with law enforcement, anti-fraud and public health officials last month showed that a huge number of counterfeits had been discovered in circulation due to increased demand for Ozambik and other weight-loss drugs, including Eli Lilly, Mongaro and Novo’s Wijovi.

Authorities have already found counterfeit Ozambik products in at least 17 countries, including Britain, Germany, Egypt and Russia. A number of these countries asked pharmacies and consumers to be careful of counterfeit products because their ingredients are not clear.

Rita said that the Ministry began investigating the eleven cases, but was unable to determine the sources of the medicines or the numbers that are printed on their labels, which allows tracking the history of their production, which made it difficult to know what the patients had taken in the first place.

She added that three of them used the drug Ozambik, which is suspected to be adulterated, to control diabetes, four to control weight, while the remaining four used it for “unspecified reasons.”

According to the ministry’s website, two orders related to the recall of Ozambik were issued in January 2023. Rita said that no cases of possible use of a non-original version of Ozambik were reported in Lebanon last year.

Novo Nordisk declined to comment on suspected cases in Lebanon.

2023-11-28 21:55:49

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