Victoza May Be Linked to Gallbladder Problems, Researchers Warn

Researchers who recently determined that active ingredient in the diabetes drug Victoza could be used as a new medication for weight loss, are now indicating that the drug may be associated with a risk of gallbladder problems. 

The comments came in response to a number of letters to the editor published on October 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine, following publication of a study that examined the potential study on the weight loss side effects of Victoza.

The lead researcher, Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, noted that gallbladder problems from the Victoza could not be completely explained away as a side effect of sudden weight loss.

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Victoza (liraglutide) is an injectable diabetes drug introduced by Novo Nordisk in 2010, as a competitor to Byetta. Novo Nordisk recently had a double-dose of the drug approved as a weight loss drug, Saxenda, over objections of some experts who warn that the medication may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, thyroid problems and other side effects.

“As we noted in our article, although the increased weight loss seen with liraglutide as compared to a placebo can partially explain the higher rates of gallbladder-related adverse events, rates were consistently higher with liraglutide than with placebo across all weight-loss categories, which suggests that factors other than weight loss could be involved,” Pi-Sunyer, of Columbia University, said. “To better understand the mechanistic basis of the observed increased incidence of gallbladder events with liraglutide, more data are needed.”

The original study, known as SCALE and sponsored by Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer, found that more than 63% of patients lost 5% of body weight, with a third losing 10%. Nearly 11% loss more than 10% of their body weight. Serious adverse events occurred in 6.2% of the patients given liraglutide, compared to just 5% in the placebo group.

A similar study, also based off of the SCALE findings, was published this summer in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There are already concerns about the side effects of Victoza and Saxenda as weight-loss drugs. Canadian researchers published a study in March warning that the class of drugs, which also includes Byetta, may increase the risk of colon cancer, particularly among patients who have undergone bariatric weight loss surgery.

The expanded use of the medication for weight-loss also comes amid continuing concerns about the risk of pancreatic cancer, with a number of Victoza lawsuits being filed in courts nationwide on behalf of former users who allege that Novo Nordisk failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community.

Similar allegations have been raised in claims involving other diabetes drugs from the same class of medications, including Byetta lawsuits, Januvia lawsuits and Janumet lawsuits, alleging that the entire incretin mimetic class of drugs increases the risk of pancreatic cancer for diabetics.

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8 Comments

  • LindaJanuary 14, 2024 at 6:02 pm

    My husband was put on Victoza about 4 or 5 years ago. It made him sick to his stomach so they upped the dose, still sick and losing weight. After being taken off Victoza things seemed to settle down for a bit. Then every once in a while he would just vomit, no reason why. These vomiting sessions then started getting closer together. For the last 3 years he has been basically unable to work because[Show More]My husband was put on Victoza about 4 or 5 years ago. It made him sick to his stomach so they upped the dose, still sick and losing weight. After being taken off Victoza things seemed to settle down for a bit. Then every once in a while he would just vomit, no reason why. These vomiting sessions then started getting closer together. For the last 3 years he has been basically unable to work because of nausea and vomiting. I think they have done every test in the book on him and can’t seem to find anything. The only thing that has been discovered is gall stones. Drs have said because he has no pain it wouldn’t be them causing the problems . Something is causing a problem and I wonder if anyone else has had this type of problem?

  • ReginaNovember 9, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    I only took victoza for two months and started having unusual pain after one month. I also had injection site pain and swelling. Now my gallbladder needs to be removed. Wish I would have NEVER started victoza. I contacted the FDA about this too.

  • ShellieAugust 3, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    I would like to be contacted

  • johnnaJune 21, 2018 at 4:09 am

    I just had to have my gallbladder removed, I never had a problem with gallstones till I started using Vatoza, my doctor told me I can use it as a preventive for diabetes as a sugar blocker, Now I'm wondering what else is it doing to my body, been on injections for about 4 to 6 months

  • James CandinMarch 25, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    I have previously been on victoza for around a year and 3 months, after being on it, for the first time in my life i was brought into hospital because of the gallbladder, gallstones, after stopping taking the victoza i felt a lot better! I will continue now to take it as i am runnning this experiment on myself, i will most likely forget about this site until i search again for proof to my doctor t[Show More]I have previously been on victoza for around a year and 3 months, after being on it, for the first time in my life i was brought into hospital because of the gallbladder, gallstones, after stopping taking the victoza i felt a lot better! I will continue now to take it as i am runnning this experiment on myself, i will most likely forget about this site until i search again for proof to my doctor that2e yes it does cause this problem, or these problems. thank you all for your comments.

  • AmberJanuary 5, 2018 at 12:44 am

    My gallbladder removed last year I am taking victoza almost two years now on and off after my gallbladder surgery. Now I notice that after taking medication for two days I have severe pain in my rib cage I couldn’t breathe properly.

  • TeresaDecember 23, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    I just had my gallbladder remove and pancreatitis. Doctor and Pharmacist where so happy with my A1c levels where down. Let see how happy they are now that the side affect of their poisinist toxic medication is the cause of my gallbladder being removed. Let alone I pray there is no other problems down the road. Beware of this medication. Do everything you can to take care of your type 2 diabet[Show More]I just had my gallbladder remove and pancreatitis. Doctor and Pharmacist where so happy with my A1c levels where down. Let see how happy they are now that the side affect of their poisinist toxic medication is the cause of my gallbladder being removed. Let alone I pray there is no other problems down the road. Beware of this medication. Do everything you can to take care of your type 2 diabetes without injecting this poison. Pray for me and yourself. Thx alot Doctors and researchers.

  • BruceSeptember 29, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    after being put on victoza i was hospitalized with pancreatic then with damaged gallbladder which was an horrible ordeal. My gullbladder was removed 2015..now with continuing problems with digesting any protein.

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