PHARMACIES that sell diabetes medications for weight loss will face severe legal consequences, warned the National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA).
This comes following reports that drug stores are selling diabetic injections Victoza and Ozempic for weight loss.
Only Saxenda, another diabetic injection, is approved for sale for weight loss, as per the advisory from NHRA chief executive Dr Maryam Al Jalahma.
Victoza, Saxenda and Ozempic are all glucagon-like peptide-1 analogues – a new class of drugs used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes – that are prescription medicines in Bahrain.
Saxenda is approved for weight loss in healthy people, while the other two are not, despite producing the desired results, clarified NHRA pharmaceutical regulations head Dr Roya Al Abasi.
“We had reports of pharmacies selling diabetes injections such as Victoza and Ozempic to regular people for weight loss,” she told the GDN.
“This is not approved. Only Saxenda, another of this type of medicine, also a diabetic injection, is approved for weight loss prescription.
“Though Victoza and Ozempic cause weight loss, users should be aware that they may cause dangerous side effects.”
Kidney malfunction, blurry vision, and fatigue are just a few of the side effects that have been linked to the misuse of Victoza and Ozempic injections.
“Recently, we received some complaints, prompting us to issue this warning, added Dr Al Abasi.
“Pharmacies that sell these injections to non-diabetic people solely for the purpose of weight loss will face legal action.”
All three medications are widely used in Bahrain which is one of the most affected by diabetes, with a 14.7 per cent adult population incidence rate.
Studies have found that a diabetes drug may be a promising treatment for obesity, with some medications assisting in weight loss by removing excess sugar from the body, resulting in fat reduction.
In addition, Saxenda has been shown to help people lose 10-15 per cent of their body weight in about six months. This is higher than with any other obesity medication.
However, Dr Al Abasi pointed out that Victoza and Ozempic are not approved for weight loss anywhere in the world.
“The injections (Victoza and Ozempic) can only be prescribed as an adjunct to diet and exercise to adults with diabetes and children aged 10 years and older with insufficiently controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus.
“These can also be prescribed to type 2 diabetic patients who have intolerance or contraindications to metformin (first-line type 2 diabetes medication) or any other medication of choice.
“Pharmacies must retain the doctors’ prescriptions for these medicines for NHRA inspectors to verify.
“They must also ensure that the doctor’s prescriptions are recent, and that the medicines cannot be given on more than one prescription.”
Under law, all medicines, with the exception of those specified by a ministerial decision, must be sold only on the basis of proper medical prescriptions with full doctor information.
Pharmacies are also required to maintain a register to record all incoming and outgoing medication quantities, as well as the date of dispensation and the name of the doctor who prescribed it.