UK online pharmacy Rightangled still selling diabetes drug Ozempic despite govt order

By Maggie Fick

LONDON (Reuters) – UK private online pharmacy Rightangled was offering Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic for sale on Friday to people wanting to use the weekly injection to shed pounds, its website shows, even after a government order to stop doing so.

Ozempic is licensed in the UK for managing blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, last year, many people who don’t have diabetes turned to Ozempic as a slimming jab, using online pharmacies prescribing it “off-label”.

In July, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Britain’s National Health Service declared a national shortage of Ozempic and all other drugs in a class called “GLP-1 receptor agonists” due to the soaring demand for approved and off-label use.

It warned the shortage will last until at least mid-2024.

It also instructed doctors and other prescribers, like private online pharmacies, to stop prescribing Ozempic to people who don’t have type 2 diabetes as soon as possible and not later than Oct. 18. It also banned prescribers from starting new patients with type 2 diabetes on the medicine for as long as the shortage lasts.

The Rightangled offers to ship the drug were displayed on the pharmacy’s website on Friday under its “general health: weight loss” section noting it was for “diabetes management but can aid in weight loss as off label.”

Rightangled, a UK-based online pharmacy chain, and DHSC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Thursday, Rightangled, a privately owned and UK-registered pharmacy that delivers prescription medicines to customers that place online orders, offered to supply Ozempic to one of its customers in an email reviewed by Reuters.

“Grab yours before it’s gone again,” the email which was dated Oct. 19 and shared with Reuters by the customer says, including a photograph of an Ozempic pen in a box.

Reuters on Friday checked the websites of other private online pharmacies that have prescribed Ozempic this year for weight-loss.

One of them, Farmeci, lists only Wegovy and Saxenda, another Novo Nordisk medicine that like Wegovy is approved for weight-loss, under its weight-loss treatments section.

Another, Juniper, a venture capital-backed private online clinic, refers on its site to Ozempic as a medicine “licensed to treat diabetes in the UK”.

A third, Simple Online Pharmacy, mentions this in its description of Ozempic: “Because Ozempic is primarily a drug used in diabetes, we choose not to prescribe this, so as not to affect critical supply chains for diabetic patients.”

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Editing by Josephine Mason and Susan Fenton)