Wegovy maker Novo Nordisk sues nine spas, clinics and pharmacies over copycat drugs

By Patrick Wingrove

(Reuters) -Novo Nordisk said on Thursday it had sued nine more medical spas, wellness clinics and pharmacies in the U.S. for selling products claiming to contain semaglutide, the key ingredient in its popular weight-loss drug Wegovy.

The Danish drugmaker has now filed 21 lawsuits since June over the sale of copycat versions of semaglutide. Five sellers have been barred from selling their disputed products. One lawsuit has been amended after samples it tested were found to be as much as 33% impure.

The new lawsuits name Aesthetic Maison, BOF Medical Center, DoctorsRx, G2 Telemedicine, GenericOzempic.com, MD Exam, MediOAK Pharmacy, Midtown Express, and Weight Loss MD as defendants.

They were filed in federal courts in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Montana, Texas and Tennessee.

The defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Non-FDA approved compounded drugs claiming to contain semaglutide with high levels of known impurities and unknown impurities pose significant risks to patients and may lead to serious and life-threatening reactions," said Doug Langa, Novo's head of North America operations.

Novo said in its lawsuit against Aesthetic Maison that the company was selling products claiming to contain semaglutide directly to patients without any prescription from a medical professional.

Testing showed Midtown Express's drug contained no semaglutide and MediOAK's product was of a far lower strength than advertised, Novo claimed in its lawsuits against those entities.

Novo also filed new allegations against Florida-based pharmacies TruLife and WellHealth, which it first sued in July.

The drugmaker said that when it tested the products being sold by WellHealth, it found impurities of up to 24%, including formaldehyde adduct, dimers, and other unknown impurities. Novo said it found impurities in TruLife's products as well.

Scott Brunner, CEO of the Alliance for Pharmacy Compounding, said legitimate compounded drugs should not be confused or conflated with counterfeit or sub-par substances created by entities looking to exploit patient demand.

Novo's biggest rival in the obesity drug market, Eli Lilly, has also sued several medical spas, weight-loss clinics and compounding pharmacies over the past year to stop them from selling products purporting to contain tirzepatide, the active ingredient in its weight-loss drug Zepbound.

At least four of those lawsuits from Lilly have either been settled, withdrawn or dismissed.

(Reporting by Patrick Wingrove; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)