Dozens of hospitals and clinics in Seoul have been illegally selling Saxenda, a prescription treatment for weight control, without a prescription, the police said. The clinics also advertised the drug to the general public, even though such ad is prohibited.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government’s police team for civil and judicial affairs on Friday said they were investigating 24 hospitals and clinics – five for selling Saxenda without a prescription and 19 for breaching advertisement rules for prescription drugs.
Following recent news reports on illegal sales of Saxenda, the Seoul police team investigated 39 plastic surgery and dermatology clinics and found unlawful acts.
The clinics under investigation either sold the obesity drug through an employee without a doctor’s prescription or put the ad of Saxenda on the clinic’s homepage.
At a clinic in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul, an employ gave a brief explanation of Saxenda and sold it to a patient. When the patient asked whether a physician had to check with the patient first, the employee said, “You can see the doctor if you want,” the police team said.
The clinic made the second selling only after a check of personal information. Some other clinics said a family of the patient could pick up the drug.
Another clinic in the same district had the Saxenda ad on its homepage. A clinic in Seocho-gu promoted the drug on the website, with a phrase sounding similar to Saxenda and meaning “an injection to reduce weight.”
Yet another clinic in Gangnam-gu recommended buying five units of Saxenda in a set, offering another unit for free.
Such reckless sale and ad of the obesity treatment could cause people to abuse the drug, the police team noted.
“Although clinical trials on Saxenda included only adults aged 18 or more who had a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or higher, most hospitals prescribed or sold the drug for cosmetic purposes, regardless of obesity,” the police team said. “We are concerned that people who are not even overweight could excessively abuse the drug, besides obese patients.”
As hospitals directly sell Saxenda, they put extra margins for profit and this increases patients’ financial burden, the police said.
The police emphasized that patients must see a doctor and receive a prescription for Saxenda.