Warning Issued Against Misuse of Anti-Obesity Drugs for Cosmetic Purposes

by Daisy

The NHS’s top doctor has issued a stark warning against the misuse of anti-obesity drugs for cosmetic purposes, particularly in the pursuit of a ‘beach body’ for the summer. Prof Steve Powis, the national medical director of NHS England, emphasized that these medications, such as Wegovy and Ozempic, should only be prescribed for and taken by individuals with severe obesity or type 2 diabetes.

Recent evidence suggests a concerning trend of individuals obtaining these drugs through online pharmacies, despite not medically qualifying for them. This misuse for quick-fix aesthetic reasons poses significant risks of complications and dangerous consequences, as highlighted by reports of young women ending up seriously ill in hospital, including in intensive care.


One such case involved a patient, described as a “young girl” by an A&E doctor, who presented with life-threatening symptoms after taking Wegovy obtained from an online service. The patient, who was not overweight, had acquired the drug without medical supervision, highlighting the dangers of unregulated online medication purchases.


Prof Powis emphasized, “We know these new drugs will be a powerful part of our arsenal dealing with obesity – but they should not be abused. Buying medication online without a doctor’s supervision can lead to complications and dangerous consequences.”


The Society for Acute Medicine has echoed these concerns, calling for urgent regulation to ensure proper access to weight-loss drugs and prevent further complications arising from their misuse.

In response to these reports, a spokesperson for Boots, whose online service was involved in one of the cases, stated they were “concerned” and emphasized patient safety as their top priority. They highlighted safeguards in place to ensure prescription of weight-loss medication only when clinically appropriate and in line with product licensing.

The alarming increase in cases of complications from the misuse of weight-loss drugs underscores the importance of informed and responsible use of medications, under medical supervision, to avoid serious health risks.

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