Advertising prescription medicine Ozempic (semaglutide) is prohibited
Ozempic is a prescription only medicine and cannot be advertised to the public. Advertising Ozempic to the public can result in jail time and penalties up to $1.11 million for individuals and $11.1 million for corporations.
Warning to social media influencers and advertisers
The TGA warns advertisers and social media influencers against publicly promoting Ozempic (semaglutide) for weight-loss.
Here we explain the reasons for, and the consequences if someone is found to have breached, the advertising requirements under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act).
Advertising Ozempic is prohibited
Ozempic is a prescription only medicine and cannot be advertised to the public. Prescription medicines are higher risk medicines and should only be determined as an appropriate treatment option in consultation with a professionally trained medical practitioner, rather than on the basis of consumer advertising.
Advertising to the public is a contravention of the Act that can result in jail time and:
- criminal penalties of up to:
- $888,000 for individuals
- $4.44 million for corporations
- civil penalties of up to:
- $1.11 million for individuals
- $11.1 million for corporations.
Advertising Ozempic for off-label claims is prohibited
Ozempic has been included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (the ARTG) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. This means that the medicine has been evaluated by the TGA for its safety, quality and efficacy for that indication only.
The use of Ozempic for an indication that is not included in the ARTG, such as weight loss, is called ‘off-label’ use. Penalties apply to a person advertising any medicine for an off-label use.
It is therefore illegal to advertise Ozempic for weight loss, not only because it is a prescription medicine, but because this is an off-label use of the medicine which is only indicated for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
The TGA will take action in relation to illegal advertising of these products, including online advertising on social media platforms.
Wegovy (semaglutide) is another prescription only medicine containing the same semaglutide ingredient as Ozempic.
While Wegovy is registered on the ARTG with an indication for weight loss it is not yet available on the Australian market (at the date of this publication).
Wegovy is a prescription only medicine which is illegal to advertise to consumers.
Why are the advertising laws in place?
Therapeutic goods are not ordinary consumer goods. Generally, consumers of health products are a more vulnerable consumer group. It is important to have advertising laws in place to protect the public from false, inappropriate, and misleading claims and ensure advertisements are balanced, accurate and support Australians to make informed health care choices.
Recent promotion of Ozempic has contributed to a global shortage of the medicine
Recent social media advertising of Ozempic for the treatment of weight loss has contributed to a global shortage of the medicine.
The Ozempic shortage has now contributed to shortages of alternatives, such as Trulicity (dulaglutide), as patients move to new treatments.
Read shortage alerts in our Ozempic (semaglutide) shortage collection
How can I help?
You can help by ensuring that all your social media content is in line with the advertising rules. This includes third party comments on your social media accounts.
To make sure that you continue to exercise your influence responsibly and legally, you should read the TGA social media advertising guide on our website. Read more on the rules around advertising at How to advertise