Mystery of the red Ozempic deepens

3 minute read

The TGA has raided a Sydney house in connection with a weight loss drug scam that has targeted GPs across the country.

Authorities may finally be getting to the bottom of the red Ozempic scam, with the TGA reportedly raiding a property in Sydney connected to the operation.

The Medical Republic first reported on the mysterious vials of red liquid purporting to be compounded semaglutide (Ozempic, Novo Nordisk) in February.

At the time, Sydney-based compounding pharmacist Adam Reinhard told TMR that he had been fielding calls for about a year from patients who had tried to fill a script for Ozempic and either received no product or received mysterious vials of red liquid in the post.

Mr Reinhard’s pharmacy did not and has never compounded semaglutide, which is typically colourless.

The calls he received were from customers who had confused his business, The Compounding Pharmacy of Australia, with the compounding pharmacy they had ordered the medication from.

While it went by multiple names the pharmacy in question tended to use some variation of “The Compounding Pharmacy of Australia”, in what may have been an attempt to appear legitimate upon a cursory Google search.

In most cases, GPs were used as an unwitting contact point between the scammers and the patients.

The scam pharmacy’s modus operandi was to send out faxes to GP clinics in an area advertising their services as a compounder of Ozempic.

GPs whose patients were desperate for the drug would pass on the details of the scam pharmacy in good faith.

Patients then paid between $500 and $3000 to the scam pharmacy, receiving either no product or vials of red liquid.

It was often unrefrigerated.

Mr Reinhard has reported the incidents to the police, and urged the patients that contact him to do so as well.

Police, the TGA and the Pharmacy Board were largely uninterested, Mr Reinhard told TMR in February. 

Last night, ABC’s Four Corners aired an expose of the scam in which it revealed that some of the product had listed the address of a Sydney pharmacist’s property on the return label. 

The pharmacist has conditions upon his license preventing him from compounding drugs or having a financial interest in a compounding pharmacy.

Two days after being provided the address by Four Corners, the TGA staged a raid of the Sydney property, where it is understood they found vials of red liquid identical to those sent to patients.

TGA testing of some of the red Ozempic has reportedly revealed the vials contain “substandard semaglutide” with a high amount of vitamin B12 added.

The regulator is currently considering a ban on compounding weight loss drugs.

The pharmacist believed to be at the centre of the scam has not been located by the TGA.

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