Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company, has taken legal action against various medical spas, wellness centers, and compounding pharmacies across the United States that are selling unapproved versions of its popular diabetes drug, Mounjaro. The drug is frequently used off-label for weight loss. Lilly has filed lawsuits in federal courts, accusing four businesses of selling compounded versions of Mounjaro in violation of state laws because these drugs lack approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In addition to the four businesses accused of selling unauthorized versions of Mounjaro, Lilly has accused six other companies, primarily medical spas and wellness centers, of trademark violations, false advertising, and unfair competition for selling knockoff drugs using the Mounjaro name.
Lilly’s lawsuits aim to safeguard patients, according to the company. It stated that it cannot guarantee the safety or effectiveness of products claiming to contain tirzepatide, which is the active ingredient in Mounjaro, if they are not its official branded product. These legal actions were taken by Lilly following similar actions taken by Novo Nordisk against companies selling versions of its weight-loss drug, Wegovy, earlier this year.
The demand for both Wegovy and Mounjaro has exceeded supply, resulting in shortages. These drugs are only available by prescription and are intended for patients with obesity or diabetes. With costs exceeding $10,000 per year without insurance coverage, some consumers have sought cheaper alternatives. Unapproved medications sold by medical spas and wellness centers, often promoted on social media platforms, have become an attractive option for some.
Lilly specifically identified Better Life Pharmacy, Revive Rx, Rxcompoundstore.com, and Wells Pharmacy Network as companies violating state laws by selling compounded versions of tirzepatide. It also requested court intervention to stop additional companies, including Georgia Weight Loss & Aesthetics, Graze Anatomy & Associates, Renew MedSpa, Revival Aesthetics and Wellness, Sensational Skin Centers, and Totality Medispa, from selling unapproved products under the Mounjaro brand, which is owned by Lilly.
Eli Lilly expects U.S. regulators to approve the use of Mounjaro for obesity treatment later in the year. The company’s shares have seen a significant increase of 57% in 2023, surpassing the 16% gain of the S&P 500 Index.
– Bloomberg’s Jef Feeley contributed to this report.