PETALING JAYA: E-commerce giant Shopee said it has taken down sale listings of the diabetes drug Ozempic on its platform.
Shopee told FMT that it had also “taken action” against those who were selling the drug.
“We remind our sellers of their responsibility to comply with both local regulations and our own prohibited items policies. We are also actively working with local governments and health authorities.
FMT had earlier found that Ozempic had been listed as a weight-loss product on the e-commerce platform and was retailing from about RM400 to RM1,300 per box. Each box contains one pre-filled injection pen to deliver doses of 0.25mg, 0.5mg or 1mg of the liquid medicine.
The drug contains semaglutide, a substance for treating Type-2 diabetes in adults.
Semaglutide is popular with celebrities such as Amy Schumer and Kim Kardashian. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had also credited his good physique to fasting and Wegovy, another medication containing semaglutide.
Last week, Singapore’s Berita Harian quoted the republic’s health sciences authority (HSA) as saying that it had pulled down at least 12 online advertisements for the sale of Ozempic, Wegovy and Saxenda since the start of the year.
The HSA was asked by the Malay daily about a number of advertisements sighted on e-commerce platforms such as Lazada and Shopee for the sale of the three medicines without the need for a prescription, which is illegal in Singapore.
Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA) president Kam Ai Teng told FMT that medicines such as Ozempic must be prescribed by certified doctors and not sold over the counter or online.
She said doctors must first assess a patient’s health condition, diet, and lifestyle before providing a treatment plan, which might or might not include such medication.
“As such, anyone who buys such medication online will be putting their health at risk, even if they are buying it as a follow-up after the doctor’s prescription has finished,” she said.
Kam also warned that the medicine sold online could be counterfeit or they could be incorrectly stored, which would make them non-viable or worse, cause adverse effects.
Meanwhile, Dr Alexander Tan of Sunway Medical Centre said buyers ran the risk of taking the wrong dosage and suffering side effects should they purchase Ozempic online and without proper prescription.
He said Ozempic was not an approved drug for weight loss, adding that its side effects include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
“Also, those buying it solely for weight loss are depriving genuine diabetes patients of their medication as there is an Ozempic shortage worldwide,” he said.
However, he added that Saxenda was normally prescribed for weight loss, while Wegovy was not yet available in Malaysia.