Controversial online prescriptions for weight loss injections in Ireland


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Irish residents have access to weight loss injections through online pharmacies without consulting doctors in person. Several online platforms provide prescriptions for medications such as Saxenda and Wegovy, which are approved for use by obese individuals without diabetes in Ireland.

One such platform requires customers to complete a questionnaire and send photos as proof of their weight to secure a prescription. However, interactions with medical professionals are absent during the prescription process, raising concerns about potential misuse and safety issues.

The cost for these medications is approximately €300 per month and isn’t covered under Ireland’s drug payment scheme for weight loss purposes.

Unregulated sales and risks

Unregulated websites also claim to sell and deliver weight-loss jabs without prescriptions, increasing the risk of consuming falsified medicines.  Last year, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) seized 286 units of suspected products containing semiglutide (the key component in Ozempic) due to their non-pharmaceutical origin.

Content creator Robyn McManus, who shares her journey of using Saxenda online, reported that multiple TikTok and Instagram accounts claiming to sell the drug were commenting on her videos. The 28-year-old Dublin resident has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Since using Saxenda a year ago, she has seen a significant drop in weight.

The importance of medical supervision

Some individuals resort to buying raw semaglutide online, mixing it at home, and using it without a prescription due to shortages and high demand.

The widespread acclaim for weight loss injections as an effective solution for managing obesity and conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is tempered by ongoing apprehensions regarding their potential misuse and overprescription.

Recognizing the importance of combating obesity, which affects a substantial portion of Ireland’s population (around 23% of those aged fifteen years and older) the medical community is committed to finding effective solutions for this prevalent health concern.

Luke O’Neill, an immunologist, strongly advocates for the appropriate use of weight loss injections by individuals dealing with obesity. However, he  highlighted the difference between being overweight and obese, emphasizing the need to avoid misuse and excessive prescription of these medications.

“Obesity is a different thing to just being overweight; it’s a serious clinical condition. And controversies have come in for cosmetic use, in cases where it’s not life-threatening in the same way that obesity is,” he stated.

To ensure the safety and efficacy of weight loss injections like Saxenda, Wegovy, and Ozempic, it is imperative that patients obtain proper consultations and prescriptions from certified medical professionals rather than resort to online platforms for their medication needs.

Dr. Illona Duffy, a General Practitioner, is an advocate for increasing accessibility to weight loss medications. However, she firmly believes that individuals must receive these prescriptions through legitimate channels and under the guidance of certified medical professionals to ensure their safety and effectiveness during treatment.

In Ireland, Saxenda is eligible for reimbursement under the drug payment program if an individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeds 35 and they are pre-diabetic. Meanwhile, Ozempic is available solely to those diagnosed with diabetes.

Novo Nordisk insists that patients should only obtain their weight loss injection prescriptions through proper consultation and prescription by certified medical professionals to ensure safe and effective treatment.

It’s a serious medication, it has side effects and it needs to be watched carefully by a GP in terms of the patients that are on it

Luke O’Neill

The significance of treating obesity as a bona fide medical condition rather than merely an aesthetic concern cannot be overstated when discussing the use of weight loss injections. This perspective is essential to ensure that individuals receive appropriate care and guidance from healthcare professionals throughout their treatment journey.

The controversy surrounding the procurement of weight loss injection prescriptions online underscores the necessity for persistent education and stringent regulations within the healthcare sector. This focus aims to safeguard patients from potential risks associated with unsupervised medication usage.

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