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Four ‘pending’ prosecutions in NI over illicit weight loss drugs

Northern Ireland health minister Mike Nesbitt has revealed that the country has successfully prosecuted one person, with four more “pending”, on charges related to weight loss drug supply.

Northern Ireland has successfully prosecuted one person on charges related to the unlawful supply of counterfeit or unlicensed weight loss drugs, the country’s health minister Mike Nesbitt revealed in a parliamentary response last week (July 5).

Nesbitt said that the Northern Ireland Department of Health’s medicines regulatory group (MRG) had launched 18 investigations “focusing on the unlawful possession, advertisement and/or supply of counterfeit or unlicensed weight loss medicinal products” between 2022 and 2024.

In addition to the one successful prosecution, four more prosecutions are “pending”, Nesbitt revealed in an answer to member of the legislative assembly (MLA) for Foyle Mark Durkan.

Read more: 'Severe violations' of advertising codes over weight loss jabs

In the course of its investigations into counterfeit and unauthorised weight loss drugs, the MRG had seized “over 340 weight loss medicinal products”, issued 10 “advice and warning letters” and reported two people to their professional regulators, Nesbitt said.

But he added that his department “cannot disclose all information in respect of its live investigative work”.

Nesbitt said that the health department is “committed to taking all possible steps to stop illegal promotion, supply or misuse of medicines”, adding that it had “taken appropriate steps” to warn the public about the risks of using “unauthorised and counterfeit medicines outside the regulated supply chain”.


Weight loss woes


Last month, C+D exclusively revealed 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.

In June, C+D reported that analysis by academics at the University of Bath and Lund University in Sweden had revealed a “failing system of drug company self-regulation”, with weight loss drugs consistently being advertised irresponsibly with “serious consequences”.

And in November, C+D reported that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had confirmed five reports of fake Ozempic (semaglutide) or Saxenda (liraglutide) pens that had been filled with insulin instead of the weight-loss phenomenon drugs, leading to some people being hospitalised.

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