Nearly 3,000 Ozempic Poisoning Cases Reported to Poison Control Centers in 2023

Many of the incidents involved overdoses with compounded versions of Ozempic and Wegovy's active ingredient, semaglutide.

Poison centers nationwide have seen an influx of calls involving problems with Ozempic and Wegovy, as the diabetes and weight loss drugs continue to rise in popularity, as do the concerns over their use.

According to a CNN report published this week, America’s Poison Centers have received nearly 3,000 reports so far this year involving exposure to semaglutide, the active ingredient in the two drugs. The data indicates this is a 15-fold increase since 2019.

Ozempic was initially approved for the treatment of people with Type 2 diabetes. However, amid aggressive advertisements that promoted the weight loss benefits, Ozempic has been increasingly prescribed as a diet drug in recent years, making it a blockbuster treatment that is now used by millions of Americans.

As a result of the popularity of Ozempic for weight loss, Novo Nordisk has introduced a higher dose version under the brand name Wegovy, which is specifically approved as a diet drug. However, it contains the same active ingredient.

With surging demand, availability of both drugs have been limited, resulting in a rise in the use of compounded semaglutide injections, as well as users splitting larger dose versions of the medications into multiple, smaller doses. The combination of these misuses has fueled a rapid rise in reports involving Ozempic poisoning, including both overdoses and dosing errors.

Compounded Ozempic Risks

According to the new report, most problems spring not from the brand-name versions of the medication, which are sold in one-dose injections, but from compounded versions of Ozempic and Wegovy, which users may have to measure out themselves.

Compounding pharmacies commonly create medications by combining, mixing or altering ingredients to create medications that are tailored to the needs of an individual patient. However, these versions of drugs are not FDA-approved, and the agency does not verify the safety and effectiveness of compounded drugs.

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about compounded Ozempic and Wegovy, after receiving a number of adverse reports linked to versions of the drug created amid the ongoing shortage of supply for the brand-name product.

According to incident reports, some patients have accidentally given themselves 20 times the recommended amounts due to dosing errors. This has led to reports of persistent nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. These errors tend to come from misunderstanding the dosing instructions, or a failure to use the injector pens properly.

“Patients should not use a compounded drug if an approved drug is available to treat a patient,” the FDA warned earlier this year. “Patients and health care professionals should understand that the agency does not review compounded versions of these drugs for safety, effectiveness, or quality.”

The agency has sent warning letters to some compounding pharmacies which sold the products online, and Novo Nordisk has filed lawsuits against a number of clinics and spas who sold their own versions of the drug.

Ozempic Overdose Risks

Overdoses linked to semaglutide can lead to symptoms including nausea and vomiting, low blood sugar, dizziness, chills, sweats, irritability, headaches, weakness, seizures, confusion and fainting.

There is no antidote for an Ozempic overdose, and it takes about a week for the drug to clear from the body, according to Poison Center health officials. Patients who suffer an Ozempic overdose are usually treated with intravenous fluids and antinausea drugs.

Experts particularly warned users to be aware of the risks of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, since Ozempic users are often diabetics on other sugar-lowing drugs as well.

Ozempic Gastroparesis Side Effects

The overdoses could also exacerbate the risks of Ozempic stomach paralysis, or gastroparesis, which can result in severe vomitting, nausea and diarrhea, often requiring emergency treatment.

Amid increasing reports of Ozempic gastroparesis problems experienced by some users, Novo Nordisk now faces a number of Ozempic lawsuits and Wegovy lawsuits, each raising similar claims that the drug maker failed to adequately disclose the potential risk to users and the medical community.

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Lawyers are pursuing Ozempic lawsuits, Wegovy lawsuits and Mounjaro lawsuits over gastroparesis or stomach paralysis, which can leave users with long-term gastrointestinal side effects

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A study published in October found that Ozempic triples the risk of the stomach paralysis among users when compared to users of non-injectable weight loss drugs. The research compared the gastrointestinal side effects of Ozempic and other injectable GLP-1 agonists like liraglutide (Victoza and Saxenda) against those experienced by users of Contrave (bupropion-naltrexone), an oral weight management medication.

The findings indicated that about 1% of Ozempic users developed stomach paralysis, compared to 0.7% of liraglutide users and around 0.3% of those on Contrave. The study highlighted that injectable semaglutide and liraglutide were significantly more likely to cause stomach paralysis and bowel obstruction than Contrave.

December 2023 Ozempic Stomach Paralysis Lawsuit Update

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the cases, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to centralize all Ozempic gastsroparesis lawsuits on December 1, asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer claims brought throughout the federal court system to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, for coordinated management before one judge during discovery and pretrial proceedings.

While the motion indicates there are currently less than two dozen cases filed in different U.S. District Courts, and Ozempic stomach paralysis lawyers are currently investigating more than 10,000 additional claims that may be filed in the coming months and years.

In complex pharmaceutical litigation, where large numbers of claims are brought by users of the same medication or medical product, each experiencing the same or similar injuries, it is common for the U.S. JPML to centralize the litigation to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues that will arise in all claims, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of certain witnesses and parties who will be required to testify in each of the lawsuits.

If an MDL is established the Ozempic and Wegovy lawsuits will be transferred to the Western District of Louisiana or wherever the U.S. JPML centralizes the pretrial proceedings. However, if the parties fail to negotiate Ozempic settlements for stomach paralysis during the MDL proceedings, each individual claim may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for trial.

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  • ErnestineDecember 16, 2023 at 7:27 pm

    Since being it I find it lowers my appetite and experienced pains I. My stomach severe pains.

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