Beauty clinics and spas in Nigeria have been using prescription drugs meant to help diabetics for their clients’ weight loss demands.
FIJ found that the antidiabetic drug semaglutide, under the brand name Ozempic, has been marketed and misused as a weight loss medication.
Vanzplace Beauty Clinic, a surgical and aesthetics beauty spa in Nigeria, has been advertising Ozempic as a “skinny pen” to the public.
The spas in Abuja and Kano administer four shots of the antidiabetic drug to each client per month.
The beauty spa did not acknowledge that Ozempic was an antidiabetic drug until @the_beardedsina, a Nigerian doctor, drew attention to this trend of drug misuse on Tuesday.
Semaglutide primarily lowers high blood sugar by increasing the amount of insulin that is released in the body, lowering the amount of glucagon released and delaying gastric emptying in the process. It may affect how much food one eats by impacting one’s appetite.
However, Ozempic injection is just one of three major brands of Semaglutide alongside Wegovy injection and Rybelsus tablets.
Drugs.com states that each brand of Semaglutide works differently.
“The different brands of Semaglutide have different uses and different forms,” Drugs.com writes in a medically reviewed article.
“Wegovy is used for weight management for a specific group of patients and is given as a subcutaneous injection weekly.
“Ozempic is used to lower blood sugar levels for type two diabetic patients, along with diet and exercise. It is also used for diabetic patients who already have cardiovascular disease to help lower the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke. Ozempic is given as a subcutaneous injection weekly.
“Rybelsus (tablet) is used to lower blood sugar levels for type two diabetic patients along with diet and exercise, and is taken as a tablet once a day.”
The beauty spas using Semaglutide mention weight loss as a beneficial side effect but omit reduced blood sugar levels, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and others.
There is also a global shortage of Ozempic and diabetics around the world have been complaining about the drug’s misuse for weeks.
Celebrities and public figures such as Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest man, have admitted using semaglutide brands for weight loss.
Novo Nordisk, the company that manufactures both Ozempic and Wegovy, responded to all media calls with the same statement on Monday:
“The 1 mg and 2mg doses of Ozempic® are now available for patients across the U.S. However, we are currently experiencing intermittent supply disruptions on the Ozempic® pen that delivers 0.25 mg and 0.5 mg doses due to the combination of incredible demand coupled with overall global supply constraints,” it said.
“While product continues to be manufactured and shipped, patients in some areas of the country will experience delays with these doses. Anyone concerned with continuity of treatment should contact their healthcare provider.
“While we recognize that some healthcare providers may be prescribing Ozempic® for patients whose goal is to lose weight, it is up to the clinical discretion of each healthcare provider to choose the best treatment approach for their patients. Novo Nordisk does not promote, suggest, or encourage off-label use of our medicines and is committed to fully complying with all applicable US laws and regulations in the promotion of our products.”
Novo Nordisk’s website categorises Wegovy as “obesity medication” but Ozempic as “diabetes medication”. Many are using both drugs interchangeably and without expert healthcare advice.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.