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Can Ozempic Kill You?

Side effects from Ozempic® may have killed patients. Ozempic has allegedly been connected to several deaths and severe side effects , including hypoglycemia, pancreatitis, thyroid cancer, gastroenteritis and gastroparesis. If you experience any of these side effects, consult your doctor.

Can you die from Ozempic?

Patients have died after taking Ozempic. Some of these deaths may be related to severe conditions brought on by Ozempic. Others have been classified as “sudden death” and attributed to the diabetes drug itself. Serious conditions not advertised on the drug’s warning label could be fatal.

Ozempic works by imitating a natural hormone that helps control blood glucose levels and feelings of being full. In technical terms, it is a glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA). The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide, which is one type of GLP-1.

Taking too much semaglutide or developing semaglutide complications can result in death. Patients could also die if they experience some of the more severe side effects reported with on-label and off-label use of Ozempic . These could include hypoglycemia, seizures and certain types of cancers.

Some severe potential side effects that may be connected to Ozempic and could lead to death include:

  • Cancer: The Ozempic warning label describes the risk of "possible thyroid tumors, including cancer." In clinical trials, Ozempic caused thyroid cancer in animals, which may indicate it can cause an increased risk of thyroid cancer in humans . This risk is disclosed on the Ozempic label.
  • Deep vein thrombosis: One of the lesser-known potential side effects of Ozempic is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a kind of dangerous blood clot. One study found the use of semaglutide increased the risk of DVT by up to 266% . This risk is not disclosed on the Ozempic label.
  • Hypoglycemia: Also commonly referred to as low blood sugar, hypoglycemia is one of the most common side effects of Ozempic . When blood sugar levels get too low, patients can have blurred vision, dizziness or even seizures that can be fatal. Other symptoms of hypoglycemia include sweating, confusion, dizziness, shakiness, extreme hunger, pale skin and blurred vision. This risk is disclosed on the Ozempic label.
  • Seizures or loss of consciousness: Severe cases of hypoglycemia may trigger seizures or loss of consciousness. Dying from a seizure by itself may be rare. But, when other potential risk factors are considered, like choking or suffering a concussion in a fall, it’s easier to see how seizures could result in death . As previously mentioned, low blood sugar can cause a diabetic seizure, which can also result in a coma. This risk is not disclosed on the Ozempic label.

The FDA label for Ozempic states that the risk of certain side effects appears to increase after the dosage is increased (dose escalation). Common side effects that can occur after dose escalation include:

  • Burping (eructation)
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas (flatulence)
  • Gastritis
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia)
  • Nausea
  • Other gastrointestinal adverse reactions
  • Vomiting

This happens most often when physicians increase their patient's weight loss medication dosage from 0.5 mg to 1.0 mg. For this reason, patients should not take more Ozempic than directed or change their dosage without consulting their physician first.

Deaths from Ozempic

The FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) has received tens of thousands of adverse reaction reports from Ozempic users and medical professionals since the drug’s FDA approval in 2017. Since then, more than 17,600 severe health problems after taking Ozempic have been reported , including 7,851 that were deemed serious. There were 6,487 reports of health problems after taking Ozempic in 2023 alone. FAERS is intended to help identify safety concerns related to marketed products, but it does not prove any product or drug is linked or caused a particular side effect or injury.

These health problems include dozens of deaths. As of April 1, 2024, there have been 222 reported deaths involving people who took Ozempic, and five of them are classified as "sudden death" cases. Reports as of April 2024 include:

  • 7 deaths in 2018
  • 22 deaths in 2019
  • 30 deaths in 2020
  • 32 deaths in 2021
  • 42 deaths in 2022
  • 89 deaths in 2023

Some various health problems patients experienced before their death include:

  • Abdominal wall abscess
  • Abnormal lack of energy (asthenia)
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Bile duct inflammation (cholangitis)
  • Bile duct stones
  • Blood vessel disease (angiopathy)
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Constipation
  • Disease complications
  • Fetal exposure during pregnancy
  • Gastrointestinal disorder
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage (bleeding in the digestive tract)
  • Injection site inflammation and infection (cellulitis)
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Liver cancer (hepatic cancer)
  • Liver failure (acute hepatic failure)
  • Lymph node swelling (adenopathy)
  • Medication errors
  • Metastatic pancreatic carcinoma
  • Muscle weakness in both arms and both legs (quadriparesis)
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Pancreatic adenocarcinoma
  • Pancreatic carcinoma
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pleural effusion (accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity of the lungs)
  • Respiratory failure
  • Sepsis
  • Speech impairment because of weakened muscles (dysarthria)
  • Suicidal ideation, attempts and behavior
  • Suspected product quality issues

Deaths have also been reported outside the FAERS system. A safety update to one semaglutide clinical trial for weight management reported eight deaths. Five of these patients received semaglutide, two received the placebo and one received a combination of the placebo and semaglutide. The primary causes of death included:

  • Cardiorespiratory arrest
  • Glioblastoma (a type of brain cancer)
  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
  • Metastatic liver cancer
  • Metastatic lung cancer
  • Metastatic ovarian cancer
  • Sudden death
  • Undetermined

Due to clinical trials, FAERS data and side effect studies, many allege Ozempic can result in death for some patients and may not be safe for weight loss.

Contact an Ozempic attorney

Have you been harmed by Ozempic? Complete this webform or call 1.800.768.4026 to contact attorneys Sara Couch and Jonathan Orent for more information or to discuss a potential Ozempic claim.

Warning signs of severe Ozempic side effects

Ozempic may be linked to serious side effects that could result in death. If you experience any adverse reactions, contact your healthcare provider and report your concerns.

It is a good idea to inform your doctor about any side effects you are having, regardless of their severity level. You never know which side effects could be a warning sign of an Ozempic condition that can lead to death. Be sure to also keep in mind that the Ozempic warning label may change as new information on potential complications comes to light. In fact, people are filing Ozempic lawsuits after experiencing extreme side effects not disclosed on the warning label.

Gastroparesis

Many patients taking Ozempic have suffered from stomach paralysis or gastroparesis. The muscular contractions in your stomach are responsible for moving food through your digestive system. Gastroparesis can prevent or slow down this stomach movement (motility), which can slow or prevent the stomach from emptying after a patient eats. Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Acid reflux
  • Changes in blood sugar levels
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
  • Lack of appetite
  • Malnutrition
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

As of April 1, 2024, there have been 118 reports of impaired gastric emptying and 224 reports of intestinal obstructions . Gastroparesis has no cure. Many patients will continue to deal with the symptoms of gastroparesis even after stopping Ozempic. Those dealing with the most severe symptoms could be at risk for Ozempic death.

If someone you love passed away after suffering unadvertised complications or side effects associated with Ozempic, you may have grounds for legal action against Ozempic manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

Acute gallbladder disease

Also known as acute cholecystitis, acute gallbladder disease occurs when the gallbladder becomes inflamed . You may be experiencing acute gallbladder disease if you notice tenderness in your abdomen or sharp-shooting pains in the upper right quadrant of your stomach that spread to your right shoulder. Other common symptoms of acute cholecystitis include:

  • Bulge in the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Acute gallbladder disease is often associated with persistent abdominal pain. It was added to Ozempic’s warning label in 2022, after the drug had been on the market for nearly five years.

Acute kidney injury

Acute kidney injury (AKI) may also be referred to as acute renal failure (ARF) . Acute kidney injury means your kidneys can no longer filter waste from your blood. Signs and symptoms associated with AKI could include:

  • Chest pain
  • Coma
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Infrequent urination or lack of urination
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the chest
  • Pain between your hips and ribs on the side of your back
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the feet, legs, or ankles

Acute kidney injury often occurs in a matter of hours or over several days. Kidneys are a necessary organ for staying alive. AKI can lead to death.

Hypoglycemia

Patients dealing with diabetes often treat their conditions with insulin or sulfonylurea . However, hypoglycemia can occur if the patient can’t eat after consuming weight loss drugs like Ozempic or if stomach contents are slowed or prevented from moving into the small intestine.

Hypoglycemia refers to lower-than-normal blood sugar or glucose levels. Since glucose is the main source of energy for your body, hypoglycemia could be considered a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment . Symptoms you might have after developing hypoglycemia could include:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Paleness
  • Numbness or tingling in the tongue, cheek, or lips
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating

Severe hypoglycemia may have worse signs and symptoms, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nightmares
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual behavior

Increased risk of thyroid tumor

Ozempic’s warning label discloses an increased risk of thyroid tumors, which could ultimately result in death. Thyroid tumors may be cancerous and lead to thyroid cancer. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms of thyroid cancer:

  • Hoarseness
  • Neck swelling or a new lump developing in the neck
  • Pain in the throat and neck
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Trouble swallowing

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. The digestive enzymes in the pancreas may attack the organ itself, leading to inflammation. The pancreas is designed to make glucagon and insulin hormones that help control your body's blood sugar levels. Your pancreatic gland also sends digestive enzymes to the small intestine to help break down food. Common symptoms associated with pancreatitis include:

  • Extreme abdominal pain that spreads to the chest or back
  • Fever
  • Fluid buildup in the belly
  • Jaundice
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Swelling in the belly
  • Tenderness in the belly
  • Vomiting

Some of the symptoms may get worse after eating. Pancreatitis can be a chronic, or ongoing, condition or it can come on suddenly.

Our medical drug litigation experience

Motley Rice has experience representing patients who have been harmed or died by prescription medication usage. Currently, the Motley Rice team is reviewing claims involving patients who have suffered off-label side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy®, including gastroparesis.

If you believe your use of Ozempic led to your health issues, do not hesitate to contact our legal team. Our team can use our considerable resources to investigate your situation and:

  • Identify potentially harmful medicines
  • Review if the medicine hurt you
  • Review the medicine manufacturer’s compliance with FDA regulations
  • Examine the adequacy of the manufacturer's warning to you about potential side effects
  • Recognize other issues that could affect your potential claim

Read more on our medical drug litigation experience.

Do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting with your doctor. Discontinuing a prescribed medication without your doctor's advice can result in injury or death. Ozempic and Wegovy remain approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sources
  1. Healthline. Side Effects of Ozempic: Examples and Treatment Options.
  2. IAPAM. What Happens if You Take Too Much Ozempic®?
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Pancreatitis.
  4. Mayo Clinic. Diabetic Retinopathy.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Gastroparesis.
  6. Mayo Clinic. Hypoglycemia.
  7. Mayo Clinic. Thyroid Cancer.
  8. Medical News Today. Is it possible to die from a seizure?.
  9. National Kidney Foundation. Acute Kidney Injury (AKI).
  10. Ozempic. Important Safety Information.
  11. StatPearls. Acute Cholecystitis.
  12. UpToDate®. Sulfonylurea agent poisoning.
  13. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) Public Dashboard.
  14. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION: OZEMPIC (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use.
  15. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Semaglutide CLINICAL OUTCOME ASSESSMENT (COA) CONSULT REVIEW. 
  16. Yin DG, Ding LL, Zhou HR, Qiu M, Duan XY. Comprehensive analysis of the safety of semaglutide in type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of the SUSTAIN and PIONEER trials. Endocr J. 2021;68(6):739–42.

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