Jesse Jones: How to avoid pharmacy scams as Ozempic fraud on the rise

The drug Ozempic continues to dominate headlines. It’s helping people lose weight and will also make your pocketbook lighter - costing more than $1,000 for a month’s supply.

Now, online telehealth services say they offer similar drugs for as low as $275 a month. The Better Business Bureau says that sounds great, but it could lead to fraud, or even worse.

“What they’re running into is a lot of counterfeits, online storefronts that purport to offer the drug when the reality is they’re trying to collect your information or access your finances and, do some less than desirable things with those,” said BBB Communications Manager Ben Spradling.

A quick Google search reveals a list of options for “semaglutide,” the active ingredient in these weight loss medications, but some of these online storefronts could be complete scams.

“They’re looking to access someone’s financial information,” he said. “So, if you’re paying by credit card, they can access that credit card information. Sometimes they’re even looking for medical records, which is something they can use to build a false identity on someone further down the road.”

While online pharmacies are nothing new, when it comes to these prescriptions the risk may outweigh the reward.

“So, one of the things that we always talk about is our financial risks or personal information risks,” Spradling said. “But when you’re talking about a situation like this, you’ve got health risks attached to that. And, that can really trump those other two. Those could have some really long-term consequences for you and your well-being.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a generic version of Ozempic has not been approved. And recently the FDA seized thousands of units from online pharmacies and is currently testing them for safety.

“You understand that it’s thousands of dollars everywhere else, and you may have just found this one place that has super low offerings,” he said. “That’s probably not the reality and is probably at least cause to do some very extensive research before you go forward with that low price.”

The BBB says, most importantly, that anyone who dispenses medication without a prescription or clear medical oversight is more than a red flag - it’s flat-out illegal.

“It’s really important to do your due diligence, make sure that the online pharmacy is what they’re claiming to be, that they are offering what they’re claiming to offer so that you’re not putting your body in any kind of danger,” Spradling said.