New Study Questions Link Between Ozempic, Wegovy and Suicide Risks

The findings come as both U.S. and EU drug safety regulators are conducting investigations into the potential risk of Ozempic suicide side effects users may face while using the diabetes and weight loss drugs.

Just days after federal regulators announced they were conducting an investigation into possible suicide risks linked to Ozempic, Wegovy and similar drugs, a new study has been released which found no connection between the weight loss and diabetes medications and patients trying to take their own lives.

According to a recent quarterly report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), a class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists were linked to 201 reports of suicide or suicidal ideation (PDF) by the end of September 2023. The report indicated the agency is currently evaluating the drugs to determine if further regulatory action is needed.

However, on January 5, a study published in Nature Medicine not only indicates it found no increased risk of suicide for patients taking Ozempic, Mounjaro and similar drugs for weight loss, but also found that such patients were less likely to try to commit suicide than other obese patients who did not take the medications.

Concerns About Side Effects of Ozempic, Wegovy and GLP-1 Drugs

Ozempic (semaglutide) was initially introduced 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.

Eli Lilly has also released competing GLP-1 drugs in the form of Mounjaro (tirzepatide), approved for diabetes treatment in 2022, and Zepbound, the weight loss version of the drug approved by the FDA last year.

Although advertisements promote the drugs as safe and effective, with few long-term side effects, former users are now pursuing Ozempic lawsuitsWegovy lawsuits and Mounjaro lawsuitsagainst the manufacturers, each raising similar allegations that users were not adequately warned about potential side effects associated with the treatments, primarily involving severe and painful stomach paralysis, or gastroparesis.

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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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Amid the increasing popularity of the drugs, a number of other serious side effects linked to Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and ZepBound have emerged, including reports of suicides among users, and rapid hair loss certain users have experienced.

In this latest study, researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and the National Institute on Drug Abuse question whether there is an Ozempic suicide risk.

The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study which compared suicide ideation among semaglutide users and those who used non-GLP1 diabetes or weight loss drugs. The study included data on 240,618 patients with obesity and 1.5 million patients with type 2 diabetes.

According to the findings, overweight patients faced a lower risk of suicidal thoughts if they took Ozempic or Wegovy than those who did not. In addition, the researchers noted there were similar findings among those who used the drugs for diabetes treatment.

“Our findings do not support higher risks of suicidal ideation with semaglutide compared with non-GLP1R agonist anti-obesity or anti-diabetes medications,” the researchers concluded.

Ozempic Suicide Risk Concerns

Prior to these results, regulators in the U.S. launched an investigation into the potential Ozempic suicide risks. A similar investigation is also underway by the European Union’s European Medicines Agency (EMA), which began investigating Ozempic suicide risks in July 2023, following similar reports.

The EMA’s investigation into the medications came after reports from Iceland of patients having suicidal thoughts. The reports involved both Ozempic and Saxenda (liraglutide).

Novo Nordisk claims there are no known causal connections between Ozempic and suicide, and the two drugs do not carry label warnings in the United States or EU alerting patients to potential suicidal thoughts risks. However, the drug Wegovy, which is also a weight loss medication sold in the U.S. using semaglutide, does carry such a warning, calling for patients taking the drug to be monitored for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Suicide risks and ideations have long been linked to weight loss drugs, such as Contrave and Qsymia, making it difficult for them to gain approved in the U.S. However, Wegovy and similar drugs are being approved at a rapid rate, since they are much more effective than earlier obesity treatments.

January 2024 Ozempic Lawsuits Update

Lawsuits against Ozempic and Wegovy manufacturers filed to date primarily involve claims over failure to warn about gastrointestinal side effects associated with the medications, not suicide risks.

Gastroparesis is a painful condition experienced by some users of Ozempic and Wegovy, which impacts the stomach muscles and prevents proper stomach emptying. It is also sometimes referred to as gastric stasis or a gastric obstruction, and typically resulting in persistent nausea, vomiting and other complications, which often require repeated hospitalizations or medical visits.

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.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hold a hearing in January 2024, to determine whether to centralize all Ozempic gastroparesis lawsuits before one judge during discovery and pretrial proceedings.

While there are currently less than two dozen cases filed in different U.S. District Courts, that number has continued to grow, and Ozempic gastroparesis 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 lawsuits will be transferred to wherever the U.S. JPML centralizes the pretrial proceedings. However, if the parties fail to negotiate Ozempic settlements for gastroparesis injuries 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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