Boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic are seen on a pharmacy counter in this photo illustration on April 17, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images
Novo Nordisk sued five medical spas and wellness clinics on Tuesday for allegedly selling cheaper, unauthorized versions of the company’s weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.
The Danish drugmaker has filed the lawsuits in federal courts in New York, Texas, Florida and Tennessee, according to complaints received by CNBC.
The lawsuits accused the spas and clinics of marketing and selling “compound” drug products that allegedly contain semaglutide, the active ingredient in both Ozempic and Wegovy. Compound drugs are custom-made versions of a treatment that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Novo Nordisk is the sole patent holder of Semaglutide and does not sell this ingredient to outside companies. It’s unclear what the spas and clinics are actually selling to consumers.
Novo Nordisk petitioned the courts to stop the sale of the unapproved drugs and to award an unspecified amount of damages.
“These unlawful marketing and sales practices, including the use of Novo Nordisk trademarks in connection with these practices, have created a high risk of consumer confusion and deception, as well as potential safety concerns,” the company wrote in a press release on Tuesday.
Spas and clinics named in the lawsuits include Pro Health Investments, Champion Health & Wellness Clinics and Flawless Image Medical Aesthetics.
It also includes Effinger Health, trading as Nuvida Rx Weight Loss, and Ekzotika Corp., trading as Cosmetic Laser Professionals Med Spa. The latter clinic offers a $30 Groupon for a week-long “Semaglutide Weight Management Program.”
The spas and clinics did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The lawsuits come amid a shortage of Wegovy and Ozempic that has led to a boom in compound alternatives that claim to be popular injectables.
The FDA last month warned of the safety risks of unauthorized versions of Ozempic and Wegovy after reports of adverse health reactions to compound versions of the drugs surfaced.
Several states have also threatened legal action against pharmacies that manufacture or distribute unapproved variants of Novo Nordisk’s weight loss supplements.