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Most of weight loss drug Saxenda irregularly distributed
  • By Kwak Sung-sun
  • Published 2019.10.08 15:19
  • Updated 2019.10.08 15:40
  • comments 0

Saxenda, a prescription medicine for weight loss, gained immense popularity, but few patients used it through a legitimate prescription via the nation’s Drug Utilization Review (DUR) system, a lawmaker said.

Consumers are easily purchasing Saxenda on social networking sites without a prescription, and there should be a significant quantity of the non-reimbursable drug being abnormally distributed, she said.

Rep. Choi Do-ja of the minority opposition Bareunmirae Party released the analysis on Saxensa imports and prescriptions, based on data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA).

According to Choi, the nation imported 153,048 boxes of Saxenda last year. One box contained five injections, meaning that the nation imported more than 760,000 Saxenda injections in 2018.

However, HIRA’s DUR system registered only 28,465 prescriptions of Saxenda during the same period, signaling that a significant majority of the diet injections were supplied without prescriptions.

Choi’s inquiries on Novo Nordisk Korea, the importer of Saxenda, showed that the company imported 349,000 boxes of Saxenda between March in 2018 and September in 2019. Excluding over 100,000 boxes in stock, about 240,000 boxes, or 1.2 million injections of Saxenda, were distributed during the period.

However, HIRA’s DUR system had only 83,306 prescriptions of Saxenda during the same period. On Sept. 9 last year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s police team for civil and judicial affairs booked five people without detention for illegally selling Saxenda. However, people are still engaged in backdoor dealings, Choi noted.

According to Choi, users can easily find Saxenda sellers in open chat rooms on Kakao Talk, and illicit deals occur through the mobile phone chat application.

However, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety failed to spot the illegal distributions of the obesity treatment entirely, Choi said. A ministry’s report on illegal online sales and advertisement of Saxenda since 2018 showed that the regulator identified 233 cases of illicit supplies of the drug. The ministry came under fire for not being able to crack down on the illegal use and distribution of Saxenda on the internet.

“Saxenda is a prescription drug, but it is still being distributed illegally,” Choi said. “The government should carry out special inspection and enhance crackdown to root out the abnormal supply of the drug.”


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