BrandShield Dismantles Over 250 Websites Trafficking Counterfeit GLP-1 Drugs, Raises Alarm on Patient Safety

Cybersecurity firm BrandShield shuts down over 250 websites selling counterfeit GLP-1 drugs, amid rising concerns about patient safety and public health risks associated with fake medications.

15 April 2024 – BrandShield, a leading cybersecurity firm, has successfully shut down more than 250 websites trafficking counterfeit versions of popular weight-loss and diabetes medications in the GLP-1 class, CEO Yoav Keren disclosed exclusively to Reuters. Out of the 279 online pharmacies closed by BrandShield last year for illicitly selling drugs targeting metabolic conditions, over 90% were associated with GLP-1 medicines, as reported by Keren.

GLP-1 drugs such as Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy, and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro and Zepbound, initially developed for type 2 diabetes treatment, have garnered substantial demand due to their weight-loss effects. However, the surge in demand has fueled a parallel market for counterfeit versions, prompting concerns about patient safety and public health.

Instances of harm linked to counterfeit GLP-1 drugs have been documented in multiple countries, including Belgium, Britain, Switzerland, and the United States, raising alarms within the healthcare community. Keren cautioned that the rising popularity of these medications may embolden criminals to further proliferate counterfeit products.

While websites peddling counterfeit GLP-1 drugs constituted over 15% of the 1,655 illicit pharmacy sites identified by BrandShield last year, Keren noted a significant increase compared to 2022 when only 34 such sites were targeted. BrandShield collaborated with the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) to dismantle these websites, with PSI members, including Lilly and Novo, selecting the specific drugs to target.

BrandShield employs evidence collection techniques to demonstrate the counterfeit nature of products sold on these websites, facilitating their removal from online platforms. Additionally, the company cooperates with law enforcement agencies, sharing intelligence to aid in investigations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced an investigation into counterfeit Ozempic within the legitimate U.S. drug supply chain.

In addition to website takedowns, BrandShield eradicated nearly 4,000 listings for counterfeit drugs across social media platforms last year, with a majority found on Facebook. The company’s efforts spanned various regions, targeting illegal drug listings on marketplaces in India, Indonesia, China, and Brazil.

While specific data on the prevalence of counterfeit GLP-1 listings on social media platforms and marketplaces remains unavailable, BrandShield remains vigilant in its mission to combat illicit drug trade and safeguard public health. – ref: Reuters

Author: Terry KS

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