05/18/2024

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Justice Department provided photos show defendant Isis Navarro Reyes on TikTok allegedly hawking "adulterated" popular weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Mesofrance, and Axcion.

‘Adulterated’ Ozempic sold on TikTok led to bacterial infection, arrest: Feds

Justice Department provided photos show defendant Isis Navarro Reyes on TikTok allegedly hawking “adulterated” popular weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Mesofrance, and Axcion.

Federal investigators are cracking down on the illegal sale of wildly popular diabetes and weight loss drugs online and this week, a New York woman without a medical license accused of hawking “adulterated” and “misbranded” versions of in-demand products like Ozempic, Axcion and Mesotherapy on TikTok, has been arrested.

Isis Navarro Reyes. 36, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with six counts including smuggling, conspiracy to introduce and deliver a misbranded drug for interstate commerce, dispensing of a misbranded drug while held for sale and more.

Prosecutors say Reyes coordinating the shipment of the “adulterated” drugs from Central and South America including El Salvador and Mexico and that her scheme relied heavily on culling victims from her social media feed.

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    Using her TikTok platform, Reyes marketed and sold the smuggled injectable weight loss drugs online for roughly one year, allegedly telling people of her personal experiences taking them before also instructing her audience on how they could inject the drugs, too.

    According to an indictment filed in the Southern District of New York, Reyes would advertise her phone number in the videos and encourage interested buyers to send her cash through Zelle.

    This January, according to a statement from the Justice Department, an undercover agent reached out to Reyes about purchasing Ozempic from her and agreed to send her $375.

    The Shirley, New York, woman never asked for a prescription. Within a few days, the undercover agent received the drugs in the mail and noted that their labeling was written only in Spanish, a violation under FDA regulations.

    Investigators said they learned as well that from November to June 2023, one of Reyes’ victims had injected themselves no less than 28 times with another weight loss drug she allegedly sold to them. Similar to Ozempic, this victim purchased the drug, Mesofrance.

    Reyes told her alleged victim to inject herself every three days and by July 2023, prosecutors say the victim “began developing lesions.”

    When the victim asked Reyes for help and sent photos, none came. They went to the doctor and their physician diagnosed them with “mycobacterium abscessus infection,” something that can cause skin and soft tissue problems, bone and joint infections and is typically the result of contaminated medical equipment.

    “In about November 2023, the New York Department of Health tested one of the vials of Mesofrance that Victim-1 purchased from REYES. The substance tested positive for mycobacterium abscessus, a species of rapidly growing, multidrug-resistant, nontuberculous mycobacteria,” prosecutors said.

    Reyes is facing potentially serious jail time. Smuggling alone carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

    Left: Justice Department-provided photo allegedly shows a TikTok video posted by Isis Navarro Reyes where she is instructing viewers how to use injectable weight loss drugs that she is accused of smuggling into the U.S./Right: A shipment of the drugs was allegedly sent by Reyes to an undercover police officer. DOJ photos.

    Left: Justice Department-provided photo allegedly shows a TikTok video posted by Isis Navarro Reyes where she is instructing viewers how to use injectable weight loss drugs that she is accused of smuggling into the U.S. Right: A shipment of the drugs was allegedly sent by Reyes to an undercover police officer. DOJ photos.

    An attorney for the Long Island woman could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Investigators stressed that to date, none of the Ozempic that Reyes sold to an undercover agent was “not genuine” but rather, that it was contaminated.

    “Reyes’s alleged unlawful dispensing of these drugs caused significant, life-threatening injuries to some victims and put all of her victims in harm’s way. Recently, public interest in semaglutide and weight loss drugs has skyrocketed, and criminals have sought to take advantage of this interest for their ends,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “With this, the first misbranding and adulteration charges brought pertaining to semaglutide, Reyes will be held accountable for her conduct, and criminals should think twice before trying to sell weight loss drugs without a license to do so. This case makes clear that extreme caution and physician consultation should always be taken when purchasing medications, especially on social media.”

    As Law&Crime recently reported, the trendy weight loss drugs have been the subject of increased controversy. Several lawsuits were filed last month accusing the makers of Ozempic and Wegovy of pumping out a dangerous product that caused people to need their gallbladders removed or has paralyzed their stomachs. The manufacturers have denied any challenges to the safety of their products.

    Representatives for Ozempic, Axcion and Mesofrance did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday.

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