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Side Effects of Ozempic, Wegovy, Similar Drugs Increase Risk of Stomach Paralysis and Pancreatitis: Study
A new study adds to the growing concerns over the side effects of Ozempic, Wegovy and other similar diabetes and weight loss drugs, warning that the increasingly popular medications are not only linked to increased risk of stomach paralysis, but also pancreatitis and other gastrointestinal problems.
Researchers with the University of British Columbia, in Canada, warn that the entire class of medications, known as glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) agonists, carry increased risks of gastroparesis, pancreatitis and bowel obstruction. Their findings were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Ozempic (semaglutide) was originally approved for the treatment of people with Type 2 diabetes. However, Ozempic has been increasingly prescribed for weight loss, which is considered an “off-label” prescription. As a result of the popularity, the drug maker introduced a higher dose version, known as Wegovy, which is approved for weight loss use.
Although the drug has been marketed as safe and effective, concerns have emerged in recent months about painful and debilitating gastrointestinal problems from Ozempic and Wegovy, primarily involving a medical condition known as gastroparesis, which results from delayed emptying of the stomach.
As a result of the drug maker’s failure to sufficiently disclose the risk, a number of former users are now pursuing Ozempic lawsuits and Wegovy lawsuits, each raising similar allegations that they developed painful and debilitating stomach problems, which could have been avoided if false and misleading information had not been provided for users and the medical community.
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In this latest study, researchers looked at the side effects of both Ozempic and other semaglutide drugs, as well as Victoza (liraglutide), which also has been linked to stomach paralysis risks in past studies. The researchers compared incidence rates of gastrointestinal problems among 4,144 liraglutide users and 612 semaglutide users with 654 users of Contrave (bupropion-naltrexone).
The study focused on those who used the drugs for weight loss, which has become an increasing trend nationwide.
According to their findings, Ozempic and Victoza users faced a nine-fold increased risk of pancreatitis, four times the risk of bowel obstruction, and more than three times the risk of gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis, than those who took Contrave.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, which can cause health problems ranging from mild discomfort to severe and life-threatening. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and can lead to bleeding, tissue damage, infections and cysts. Pancreatitis also is believed to increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
“This study found that use of GLP-1 agonists for weight loss compared with use of bupropion-naltrexone was associated with increased risk of pancreatitis, gastroparesis and bowel obstruction, but not biliary disease,” the researchers determined. “Given the wide use of these drugs, these adverse events, although rare, must be considered by patients who are contemplating using the drugs for weight loss because the risk-benefit calculus for this group might differ from that of those who use them for diabetes.”
Ozempic, Wegovy Gastrointestinal Concerns
The findings of this latest study come just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new label warnings for Ozempic, indicating that it can increase the risk of intestinal blockages. The warning links Ozempic to a condition known as ileus, which can cause abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation, difficulty passing gas and difficulty eating.
The symptoms of gastroparesis and pancreatitis from Ozempic are similar to ileus, including nausea, vomiting undigested food, abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, severe dehydration, feeling full after only a few bites, undigested food hardening in the stomach, acid reflux, fluctuating blood sugar levels, lack of appetite, weight loss, malnutrition and decreased quality of life. However, some users diagnosed with Ozempic-induced gastroparesis report that the side effects persisted long after the drug is discontinued.
In July, a CNN investigation outlined an alarming number of reports linking Ozempic and gastroparesis, indicating that similar problems have been associated with other drugs in the same class in recent years.
In 2017, researchers with the Mayo Clinic conducted a study involving Victoza, which found that the drug caused significantly slower digestion in users, taking about 70 minutes for half the food they ate to leave their stomachs, compared to four minutes for people who did not take the drug. However, the study found that people’s bodies tended to adjust over time.
The first known Ozempic gastroparesis lawsuit was filed in early August, alleging Novo Nordisk knew about the risks, but failed to provide patients and healthcare providers with adequate warning. However, it is widely expected that or thousands of similar claims may be brought in the coming months and years, as well as Wegovy lawsuits and Mounjaro lawsuits over similar gastrointestinal risks associated with these similar medications.
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