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Wegovy: Online weight loss drugs need 'urgent regulation', doctor leaders warn

The body representing acute doctors has raised the alarm with the medicines watchdog about the regulation of “life threatening” weight loss drugs obtained online, C+D has learned. 

A&E doctors “across the UK are very concerned about the increasing numbers of patients we are seeing with complications from new weight loss drugs they have purchased online”, the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) said today (June 13).

Consultant in acute medicine and president-elect of the SAM Dr Vicky Price told C+D that she and “and many other colleagues in acute medicine” had come across patients with “serious, life-threatening complications”.

These include “inflammation of the pancreas gland and alterations in blood salt levels” in patients “who were not aware of the risk they were taking”, she added.

She revealed that SAM has “raised concerns about this inappropriate use with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)”.

“There is a need for urgent regulation and control of access for weight loss drugs online to avoid more patients becoming unwell,” she said.


“Young girl” in A&E


It comes after C+D yesterday exclusively revealed claims that a “young girl” had to be treated in A&E after presenting with life threatening symptoms after taking weight loss drug Wegovy obtained through Boots Online Doctor.

An anonymous doctor told C+D that she was “not at all” overweight, but had obtained Wegovy after she’d “gone online, filled in the form and then got a months’ worth” for around “£150”.

They added that on “every” recent shift, a patient who should not be on weight loss drugs has presented with complications after illicitly obtaining Wegovy.  

A Boots spokesperson stressed that patient safety is the multiple’s “number one priority” and that it has “a number of safeguards in place”.

“Patients are required to complete an online consultation, which is reviewed by a Boots Online Doctor clinician to determine if treatment is appropriate”, including “answering questions on their medical and psychological history and supplying a photograph”, the spokesperson told C+D.

Meanwhile, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said that it takes “patient safety extremely seriously and will be looking into the issues raised by this clinician relating to the supply of weight-loss medicines by online pharmacies”.

GPhC chief strategy officer Mark Voce added that the regulator’s guidance “for registered pharmacies providing services at a distance including on the internet states clearly that selling and supplying medicines at a distance brings different risks that need to be appropriately managed to protect patient safety”. 


“Medicines are not ordinary items of commerce and must not be treated as such,” he said.


If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s health, you can contact Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677 or

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