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Health Risks Posed by Counterfeit Ozempic

April 24, 2024 In Ozempic

Ozempic, a medication originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, has soared in popularity due to its effects on weight loss. It works by mimicking a hormone that targets areas of the brain involved in appetite regulation, helping patients reduce their hunger and, consequently, their weight. However, its popularity has given rise to a troubling issue: the proliferation of counterfeit versions.

The presence of fake Ozempic in the market is alarming. Counterfeit drugs may not undergo the rigorous safety and efficacy testing that genuine medications do, leading to severe health risks for unsuspecting users. These fake versions often contain harmful or ineffective ingredients that can do more harm than good. The danger is compounded by the fact that these counterfeits are often sold outside the usual pharmaceutical supply chains, where there is little to no regulatory oversight. An Ozempic injury attorney may be able to help if you or a loved one suffered adverse reactions to a counterfeit medication.

How Common Is Counterfeit Ozempic?

As the demand for weight loss solutions grows, counterfeit Ozempic has become a significant concern. Over the past year, genuine Ozempic and other semaglutide medications have faced massive shortages due to overwhelming consumer interest and supply chain issues. As a result, some have turned to counterfeit versions to keep up with demand.

In 2023, incidents involving counterfeit Ozempic led to serious health emergencies in the United States. Three individuals experienced dangerously low blood sugar levels after using what they believed to be Ozempic, which instead contained insulin glargine—a medication used for long-acting blood sugar control in patients with diabetes.

According to America’s Poison Control Centers, all three of these cases were reported by the same regional poison control center, indicating that there might be a concentrated source of counterfeit Ozempic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is continuing to investigate these cases and has seized thousands of units of medication, but it has not yet released an update on its investigation.

Health Problems Caused by Counterfeit Ozempic

While Ozempic offers benefits to diabetes and weight loss patients, counterfeit versions often lack the same active ingredients, leading to numerous health issues. Users expecting therapeutic effects may instead face unexpected and severe medical complications, such as dangerously low blood sugar, infections, coma, and seizures.

Hypoglycemic Shock

Hypoglycemic shock occurs when blood sugar levels drop dangerously low, leading to symptoms such as confusion, trembling, heart palpitations, and sweating. Counterfeit Ozempic containing insulin instead of semaglutide can induce this condition unexpectedly in non-diabetics. To avoid dangerous complications, patients often need to consume fast-acting carbohydrates or obtain a glucose injection to bring their blood sugar levels up to healthy levels.


Coma, a deep state of unconsciousness, can be triggered by severe hypoglycemia from counterfeit Ozempic that contains insulin. Before slipping into a coma, patients may experience severe confusion, fatigue, and loss of consciousness. Emergency medical treatment is crucial in these situations; stabilizing blood sugar levels and continuous monitoring can help prevent long-term brain damage and other complications.


Infections can arise when non-sterile counterfeit Ozempic injections introduce bacteria into the body. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, pain at the injection site, fever, and pus. Depending on the severity of the infection, patients may require antibiotics and possibly hospitalization to prevent dangerous complications such as sepsis, a condition where the body’s response to infection causes widespread inflammation.


Seizures can occur when using counterfeit Ozempic that contains insulin. These can result from extreme drops in blood sugar, leading to uncontrollable jerking movements, loss of consciousness, and confusion.

Signs That Your Ozempic May Be Counterfeit

Many people who have been harmed by counterfeit Ozempic were unaware that the medication was fake. In fact, pharmacies have even purchased counterfeit medication under the false belief that it was legitimate. It is important for everyone—from the pharmacist to the patient—to carefully examine Ozempic boxes for signs of counterfeiting.

Here are several signs that may indicate your medication is not genuine:

  • Packaging and Labeling Issues: Authentic Ozempic pens have specific markings and high-quality labels that do not easily peel off. Counterfeit products may have poorly printed labels, spelling mistakes, or incorrect dosing information.
  • Pen Mechanics: Genuine Ozempic pens do not extend or change length when setting doses. The dose dial window only shows the intended dose for the pen type. If the pen’s scale extends or shifts unexpectedly, it is likely not authentic.
  • Needle Count: Legitimate Ozempic pens contain a specific number of needles, which attach directly onto the pen. If a counterfeit has more or fewer needles than indicated on the box, then it is likely counterfeit.
  • Batch Number and Box Integrity: Always check the batch number on the box against the product strength and verify that the packaging includes tamper-resistant features. The absence of these details or any discrepancies can indicate counterfeiting.

What to Do If You Encounter Counterfeit Ozempic

If you suspect that your Ozempic is counterfeit, stop using it immediately and consult a healthcare professional. Monitor your health closely for any unusual symptoms and seek medical care right away if you notice anything wrong. Keep an eye out for symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as lethargy, confusion, shakiness, and sweating.

After seeking treatment, report the product to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program. You can do this by completing and submitting your report online, or by faxing your completed form to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-0178.

You should also report the counterfeit product to the FDA as soon as possible. You can do this by calling your local FDA consumer complaint coordinator or by calling the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) at 1-800-551-3989.

Your Legal Options After Being Harmed by Fake Ozempic

If you have been harmed by counterfeit Ozempic, you have several legal avenues to explore. You can file a lawsuit against the pharmacy that dispensed the medication and possibly against the pharmacists themselves if you were misled into believing the medication was genuine. This applies even if the pharmacy was unaware that the product was counterfeit.

Even genuine Ozempic can cause harm. If you took Ozempic and suffered undisclosed side effects such as gastroparesis or intestinal blockage, you may also have grounds for a lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor.

An attorney who specializes in dangerous drug litigation can help you understand your legal options and secure the compensation that you deserve. With a lawyer on your side, you can hold all responsible parties accountable for the harm that you suffered. Schedule a free legal consultation to learn more about these avenues and take your first steps toward justice.