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A controversial weight loss drug has sparked headlines following widespread rollout across the NHS, online pharmacies, and even social media.

From Hollywood to your local GP practise, the diabetes medication, semaglutide is the latest hot topic of conversation within the world of weight loss. The medication, injected via the stomach on a daily or weekly basis, is commonly used to regulate the hormone glucagon-link-pepide-1 in patients with diabetes but unexpectedly works to regulate appetite and food intake resulting in weight loss in patients. The prescription of the weight loss drug is restricted to those with a BMI over 30 and diagnosed with a weight-related health condition.

The medication, sold under different brands such as Saxenda, Ozempic, and Wegovey, is Hollywood’s worst-kept secret. The drug has become widely sought after following its use by various celebrities slimming down for the red carpet, resulting in a national shortage. This has seen an increase in black market sales of the medication via weight loss clinics, social media platforms such as Instagram & Facebook, and aesthetics practices.

The dangers of this come as no shock, the obvious being that when purchased via an unlicensed avenue, it is not clear what the user is injecting themselves with or whether they have the appropriate medical background to safely use the drug, particularly without the medical supervision required to take such medication.

The Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is cracking down on the unlicensed sales of the weight loss drug and other licensed products including Melanotan and Botox. MHRA’s director of criminal enforcement, Andy Morling, has stated that despite the market for the sale of these products being new and fairly small scale, the agency is making plans for raids across the country. “The very best that could happen to you is you lose your money in a scam," he says. "And the worst that could happen is you end up hospitalised”.

Here at JMW, we specialise in all aspects of professional regulation and criminal defence. If you have any queries regarding the regulation of licensed medication, speak with one of our solicitors today.

This blog was co-authored by Jonathon Enston and Georgia Hughes.

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