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Is semaglutide powder safe? The rise of the illicit black market of Ozempic

Robbie Puddick
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Robbie Puddick

15th November 2023
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Semaglutide powder isn’t safe for human consumption. It’s illegal, unregulated, and potentially very harmful to health. If you’ve been offered semaglutide powder online or elsewhere, it’s recommended that you report this to the police.

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What is semaglutide powder?

The black market semaglutide powder is an unregulated and unauthorised form of the weight-loss jab semaglutide, which is the active ingredient in weight-loss injections, Wegovy and Ozempic.

A BBC investigation has found that it’s being sold online through websites, social media sites like Instagram, and even in some beauty salons.

One woman found herself in hospital after falling seriously ill as a result of injecting herself with the illicit medication.

Semaglutide powder is sold in vials, with one containing powder and the other liquid, which you mix before injecting.

The approved and regulated semaglutide, sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, comes in a set of four injectable pens. It contains no powder, and you don’t need to mix anything before injection.

Where has semaglutide powder come from?

The rise in knock-off semaglutide has come from the rise in popularity of the weight-loss jab, Ozempic. In 2022, reports revealed that several celebrities were using the medication off-label to help them lose weight.

This sparked a period of unprecedented demand for the medication, which is only approved for type 2 diabetes in the UK, and led to medication shortages for people in the UK living with type 2 diabetes.

The high demand for the drug has provided a window of opportunity for the black market to create an illegal, knock-off version of Ozempic, which they claim to provide all of the benefits of the regulated medication for a lower price.

The BBC investigation showed that semaglutide powder was being sold online for £200, which was claimed to support 6-10 weeks of treatment.

The risks of taking semaglutide powder

As semaglutide powder is unregulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Agency (MHRA) in the UK, it could be mixed with other harmful substances without having the desired impact on weight loss.

The substances contained in semaglutide powder could cause various unidentified health risks.

Stay safe: How to spot illegal semaglutide

All medications in the UK are tightly regulated, and Ozempic and Wegovy can only be purchased alongside a prescription.

Only registered pharmacies and online retailers can prescribe Wegovy and other regulated medications.

Here are our top tips for avoiding illegal semaglutide:

  • Exercise extreme caution when buying medications online, particularly if they come in a different form than the registered and regulated versions
  • Seek the support of a registered healthcare professional, like your pharmacist or doctor, before taking a new medication
  • If buying prescription medication online, verify the source and make sure the provider is registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
  • If in doubt, speak to your local healthcare team or search for information on the NHS and MHRA websites
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