Wegovy maker Novo Nordisk sues Florida pharmacies over copycat drugs

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – Novo Nordisk on Thursday accused three Florida pharmacies of illegally selling products claiming to contain semaglutide, the active ingredient in diabetes and weight loss drugs from Danish manufacturer Wegovy, Ozempic and Rybelsus.

In three separate lawsuits in federal court in Florida, Novo Nordisk sought orders restraining TruLife Pharmacy, Brooksville Pharmaceuticals and WellHealth Inc from selling the products and seeking unspecified damages. The three defendants prepare pharmacies, which manufacture personalized drug preparations for customers.

Pharmacies could not immediately be reached for comment.

Novo Nordisk is the only company licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration to sell semaglutide medications. He said the pharmacies were selling new drugs without FDA approval and claiming to compete with Novo Nordisk’s approved drugs, violating federal and state laws.

Novo Nordisk said in the lawsuits that selling drugs without going through the FDA approval process gives pharmacies an “unfair competitive advantage.”

“Worse still, it puts patients at risk by exposing them to drugs that have not been shown to be safe or effective,” the company said.

The lawsuits come about two weeks after Novo Nordisk filed similar claims against medical spas and wellness clinics in the United States.

Wegovy is approved for weight loss, while the other two drugs are approved for diabetes. However, Ozempic experienced a supply shortage earlier this year due to high demand, driven by prescriptions to non-diabetic patients looking to lose weight.

In May, the FDA warned the public about the safety risks of unauthorized versions of Novo Nordisk’s popular weight-loss drugs in response to reports of adverse health reactions to the custom-made versions.

Barclays estimates the global market for weight-loss therapies could be worth up to $100 billion over the next 10 years, with most of the profits going to early leaders Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York, editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Jamie Freed)

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