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Cybersecurity Firm Says it Has Removed Hundreds of Sites Selling Fake Weight Loss Drugs


BrandShield states that it has identified sites selling counterfeit versions of Wegovy and Ozempic, among other drugs.



It’s important to always be careful whenever buying anything from a website, especially medication.

In recent years, it’s become much more common for patients and other consumers to find online sources where they can directly access medications without having to visit a pharmacy. This provides clear benefits for patients, such as limiting the burden placed upon them and potentially helping to reduce the cost of some medications. As is the case with most things, however, there are also risks.

A new report from Reuters details one company’s work to take down sites selling fake medications.1 Not surprisingly, a significant percentage of these sites were selling counterfeit weight-loss drugs, such as fake versions of Ozempic. The report does note, however, that the number of sites selling these counterfeit weight-loss drugs has significantly increased in the last year.

BrandShield, a cybersecurity firm, spoke with the news outlet about its efforts to shut down website selling fake medication. According to the firm, in 2022, only 34 sites selling fake weight-loss drugs were identified by the firm. In 2023, the firm says that about 90% of the 279 pharmacy sites it identified last year were selling these drugs.

The firm does note that it expanded its search for weight-loss knock offs in 2023, but it still notes that there has been a significant increase in the amount of fake weight loss drugs popping up.

This is likely due to two factors. First, these drugs have become highly popular in the last year. Due to shout outs from influencers and celebrities, drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic have become household names. It’s become so common that any celebrity who has recently lost weight is accused of having Ozempic face (a term that refers to the supposed loose skin on the face that occurs as the result of fast weight loss).

The second factor is that many of these drugs are difficult to find. Novo Nordisk has had trouble keeping Wegovy stocked and had to briefly limit the number of beginner doses it produced last year in order to reduce the number of new patients taking the medication.

As a result, there was high demand and low supply, which gave counterfeit drug makers the opportunity to strike. Not surprisingly, these knock off drugs came with risks.

In January of this year, Pharmaceutical Executive reported that multiple instances of hypoglycemia were attributed to counterfeit Ozempic.2 According to the report, three US citizens suffered the harmful side effect in 2023. At the time, guidance was issued for how to spot fake medications. The guidance included advice such as checking to make sure the dosage is correct (most drugs are sold in certain doses) and to check the packaging for any grammatical or spelling errors.

In the most recent report, BrandShield notes that it has identified sites selling knock-off or counterfeit versions of drugs in a wide variety of areas, such as hormone-related drugs, cancer treatments, and medications meant for central nervous system conditions. When BrandShield identifies a site selling counterfeit medications, it collects evidence from the sites proving that the medications are fake. This evidence is then brought to the service provider hosting the site, at which point the site is often taken down.


  1. Wingrove, Patrick. More Than 250 Websites Selling Fake Weight-Loss Drugs Reported by Anti-Counterfeit Firm. Reuters. April 15, 2024. Accessed April 16, 2024. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/more-than-250-websites-selling-fake-weight-loss-drugs-reported-by-anti-2024-04-15/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=Social
  2. Tracy, Don. Report: Three US Residents Suffering from Hypoglycemia Used Suspected Counterfeit Ozempic. Pharmaceutical Executive. January 26, 2024. Accessed April 16, 2024. https://www.pharmexec.com/view/report-three-us-residents-suffering-from-hypoglycemia-used-suspected-counterfeit-ozempic
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