- One TikTok user offers ‘semaglutide’ injections for up to £280 per pack
- Experts warn buying through ‘non-legitimate routes’ poses ‘danger to health’
Knock-off ‘weight loss pens’ are illegally being given away for free on social media, MailOnline can disclose.
One TikTok user offers ‘semaglutide’ injections for up to £280 per pack and claims they are the ‘safest and best’ version available in the UK.
The account, which has since been removed from the platform, also advertises BOGOF deals, 30 per cent discounts and giveaways, our shock probe revealed.
But semaglutide, made by Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk and branded as Ozempic or Wegovy, is prescription-only.
Trials have shown the medicine — nicknamed Hollywood’s best-loved secret before being widely approved — can help people lose more than 2st, earning it praise as a ‘miracle’ skinny jab.
Under UK law, it is illegal to sell it without a prescription.
It means that social media users doing so, who’ve been accused of preying on Brits desperate to lose weight, are flouting the law.
Experts warned that some products sold with the promise of being the skinny jab will not even be semaglutide.
The user healthgroupaue touts the injections for just £36 per weekly dose and claims they are the ‘safest and best weight loss pen in the UK’
Boxes of the product, shown on the page’s TikTok account, are labelled with ‘The Weight Loss Pen’, ‘semaglutide’ and ‘FDA approved’
Novo Nordisk told MailOnline it was aware of ‘counterfeit’ versions being dished out in the UK.
Some versions have even left Brits in a coma.
Novo Nordisk warned buying through ‘non-legitimate routes’ poses a ‘direct danger to health’.
Eating disorder charities warned their sale online is ‘incredibly concerning’.
It comes after a mother-of-two this week told how she is ‘lucky to be alive’ following her unknowingly injecting herself with a fake version of Ozempic.
Michelle Sword, from Oxfordshire, ordered weight-loss pens online and had to be rushed to hospital after the jab triggered a near-fatal drop in her blood sugar levels.
MailOnline found TikTok user healthgroupaue linking to a site that sells weight loss pens in 5mg packs for £180 and 10mg packs for £280.
Boxes of the product, shown on the page’s TikTok account, are labelled ‘The Weight Loss Pen’, ‘semaglutide’ and ‘FDA approved’.
Instructions on the back of the box tell users how to prepare the pen, including attaching a needle and checking the dosage. Users should then inject themselves in the thigh, upper arm or abdomen, it recommends.
Packaging states that the box contains one pen, sterile needles and alcohol swabs.
As well as selling the pens, the account gives them away for free on TikTok live videos and dishes them out for free to some subscribers of its newsletter
Screenshots of testimonials, which the account says has come from its Facebook support group for customers, include claims of 11lbs weight loss in one week, feeling full after one injection and users saying there are ‘no side effects apart from a bit of indigestion’.
Others claim they have shed fat despite ‘eating everything as normal and not cutting anything out’ and labelled the jabs as ‘life changing’.
TikTok has since permanently banned the account for violating its community guidelines, which prohibit the ‘illicit trade of regulated drugs’.
Branded as Ozempic, semaglutide has been available on the NHS since 2019 for type 2 diabetics to manage blood sugar levels.
For these patients, a 0.25mg dose is taken once a week for four weeks, which can be upped to 0.5mg and 1mg, if needed.
Semaglutide was approved for weight loss in 2022 under the brand Wegovy.
Doses start at 0.25mg and go up to 2.4mg. On the NHS, it is available to obese patients with a weight-related health condition.
However, either drug can be accessed privately for weight loss through off label prescribing. This is a system where medics can dish out a drug approved in the UK but for a different purpose than why it was approved.
Packaging states that the box contains one pen, sterile needles and alcohol swabs.
The user healthgroupaue offers buy-one-get-one-free deals (left), 30 per cent discounts and giveaways (right)
Screenshots of testimonials, which the account says has come from its Facebook support group for customers, include claims of 11lbs weight loss in one week, feeling full after one injection and users saying there are ‘no side effects apart from a bit of indigestion’. Others claim they have shed fat despite ‘eating everything as normal and not cutting anything out’ and labelled the jabs as ‘life changing’
But health chiefs have told medics to stop handing out Ozempic under this system due to fears it is leading to shortages among type 2 diabetes patients who rely on it.
Meanwhile, only a limited number of Wegovy doses have been sent to the UK.
This has led to a black market for semaglutide.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned this month that patients were suffering from seizures and being left in comas after injecting themselves with fake versions being sold at cut price online. They have seized 369 potentially pens since the start of this year.
It warned that many won’t even contain semaglutide. Fake versions are often just insulin pens which have been repackaged to look like the real thing, fooling customers.
But when patients inject themselves, the insulin surge causes a rapid drop in blood sugar — which can be fatal.
The MHRA urges anyone seeking the drugs to go to their GP or pharmacist for a correct diagnosis and obtain any prescribed medication from a ‘legitimate source’.
A Novo Nordisk spokesperson told MailOnline that it is aware of ‘some counterfeit semaglutide injection products’ being dished out in the UK and is working with the MHRA. ‘This is a critical issue that we are investigating together with the health authorities,’ they added.
The spokesperson said: ‘Buying prescription-only medicines online through non-legitimate routes without a prescription poses a direct danger to health.
‘The contents of the falsified medicines can be entirely different from the genuine medicine and should not be used.
‘Patients should only obtain appropriate medicine on prescription through legitimate sources and after consultation with a healthcare professional.’
Eating disorder charity Beat told MailOnline that the availability of weight-loss jabs online without a prescription means there is ‘no protection against the severe mental and physical health risks’.
Tom Quinn, its director of external affairs, said: ‘It’s incredibly concerning that weight loss injections are being sold online.
‘We know that quick fixes for drastic weight loss often appeal to people with an eating disorder, who may want to lose weight even if it puts their health at risk.
‘But these medications are very dangerous as they can worsen an eating disorder or contribute to an eating disorder developing for the first time.’
It comes after Michelle Sword (pictured), a mother-of-two, from Oxfordshire this week revealed she nearly died after injecting herself with a weight loss pen that she bought online
Ms Sword said she purchased her counterfeit Ozempic pen from an online store. She said that when the pen (pictured) arrived it looked ‘just like the real thing’
Paramedics (pictured) initially tried to give Ms Sword oral glucose and get a drip into her arm, but when they got no response they decided to take her to hospital
He added: ‘The Government must strengthen policies to ensure that only registered health professionals are able to prescribe these medications, and that eating disorder screening is carried out to make sure that people affected by an eating disorder cannot access them.
‘Medical professionals must be able to closely monitor their patients and look out for physical health risks as well as signs of an eating disorder. This should include educating the general public about the serious side effects of these injections.’
It comes after Ms Sword this week revealed she nearly died after injecting herself with a weight loss pen that she bought online.
The 45-year-old first used Ozempic in 2021 to help shift 28lbs (13kg) in six months following the breakdown of her marriage. She secured a prescription with a private GP through off-label prescribing.
On the drug, she described herself as having no appetite whatsoever and still being able to maintain her same energy levels.
But when the receptionist for Airbus noticed that she was eating more after giving up vaping, she decided in September to use the once-a-week jab again.
However, when she was unable to get it from a private GP due to a national shortage, she ordered the injection from an online store called TheGlamTanCo that she found on social media. It was offering a one-month course for £150 — far below the £700 she was previously charged.
Ms Sword said that when the pen arrived it looked ‘just like the real thing’.
The only difference she could see were that the numbers down the side of the vial were slightly different to the previous real Ozempic pens she had used.
Just 10 minutes after administering the pen, she said she started to feel ‘really, really strange’ and began to sweat profusely, before sitting down on the floor and finding herself unable to get back up.
She added: ‘I told my daughter to keep an eye on her pasta because I didn’t feel very good. I started to walk up the stairs but then something just told me “don’t go to bed” so I sat down.’
Ms Sword doesn’t remember the rest of what happened, with the moments instead recounted by her daughter and best friend Vicky.
Her daughter CADIE said after sitting down her mother slumped on the sofa and her eyes looked like they were ‘still awake’ but she stopped responding to her questions.
Cadie then tried to give her mother a drink and a little bit of pasta, which she thought of because her grandfather has diabetes.
But after she couldn’t get her mother to move or respond she telephoned best friend Vicky, who lives just around the corner.
She arrived within three minutes and called emergency services, who arrived within 12 minutes.
Paramedics initially tried to give Ms Sword oral glucose and get a drip into her arm, but when they got no response they decided to take her to hospital.
Cadie showed ambulance staff the counterfeit Ozempic pen at home, saying: ‘I think my mother has injected herself with this’.
On the way to hospital, Ms Sword came round briefly where her friend tried to feed her a pastry — before passing out and having a seizure in the ambulance.
At A&E, she was greeted by seven or eight people who revealed her blood sugars had fallen to 0.6 mmol/L — prompting them to insert needles and just try to give Ms Sword as much fluid and glucose as possible.
During the first few hours in hospital, Ms Sword did regain consciousness for periods — but would then slump back saying ‘I’m going again’ before passing out.
On the way to hospital, Ms Sword passed out and had a seizure in the ambulance
Ms Sword told MailOnline, while fighting back tears: ‘My daughter saved my life. If my daughter had not come home with me and had not been there that evening, I would have died’
Ms Sword (pictured with son Coen, 18, and daugher Cadie, 13) added: ‘It’s not worth your life. It’s not worth your life at all. It’s not worth leaving the people who love you the most and who don’t care about how you look and how skinny you are. They love you inside and out’
Shortly after her admission to hospital, she suffered a second seizure.
During the seizures, she described her body as going rigid with paramedics needing to hold down her hands to stop her body spasming and thrashing about. When she came back around, she said every muscle felt like it had been punched by Mike Tyson.
Doctors tested her blood for glucose every hour and kept her in overnight until she stabilised. She was not discharged until the next day.
Hospital staff also took the counterfeit Ozempic pen, saying they were going to have to report the incident and the seller.
Ms Sword told MailOnline, while fighting back tears: ‘My daughter saved my life.
‘If my daughter had not come home with me and had not been there that evening, I would have died.’
She added: ‘It’s not worth your life. It’s not worth your life at all. It’s not worth leaving the people who love you the most and who don’t care about how you look and how skinny you are. They love you inside and out.
‘This is what breaks my heart, that these people are literally cashing in on the vulnerability of men and women with low self-esteem.
‘I have had a sit down with my daughter and said I am so sorry, I am so sorry, there is better healthier and more positive ways to lose weight if you feel you need to.
‘We both had a cry and she just said, “I know mum” and that she loves me inside and out and just the way I am.’
Ms Sword said she has suffered no long-term consequences from the experience. She has been for cognitive tests and kidney tests which all show everything is functioning normally.
She has repeatedly emailed and messaged the site from which she bought the fake Ozempic detailing her experience but claims they have not replied.