Diabetes drug Ozempic® and similar medicines are growing in popularity with people searching for an effective appetite suppressant. While Ozempic is often praised for its off-label use as a weight loss aid, people who use it for long periods may risk health problems, including intestinal blockages and stomach paralysis. Wegovy®, a higher-dose version of Ozempic that is FDA-approved to treat obesity, may also cause life-altering effects.
Manufacturer Novo Nordisk does not list stomach paralysis (gastroparesis) intestinal blockages or pancreatic cancer, both potential and deadly gastric side effects of Ozempic and Wegovy, as part of their warnings. As a result, patients may not know they are at risk for developing one of these serious conditions, both which can require hospitalizations and surgery to treat.
Our medical drug attorneys are investigating claims. If you took one of these drugs and suffered health problems, we want to talk with you about your legal options.
If you or a loved one suffered pancreatic cancer, intestinal blockage or stomach paralysis/gastroparesis after taking Ozempic, Wegovy or another GLP-1 Receptor drug for diabetes or weight loss, you may have a claim. Complete this webform or call 1.800.768.4026 to contact attorney Sara Couch for more information or to discuss a potential claim.
Ozempic off-label use background
Ozempic was created and approved in 2017 to treat Type 2 diabetes. Soon after Ozempic hit the market, however, clinicians observed that appetite suppression was a side effect and weight loss often occurred. Novo Nordisk then developed Wegovy, a higher-dose version of Ozempic, which was approved by the FDA in June 2021 to treat certain patients suffering with weight gain and obesity. Since then, both drugs have surged in popularity, resulting in national shortages. Together, sales of these drugs reached nearly $10 billion in 2022, with prescriptions continuing to soar.
Wegovy and Ozempic’s active ingredient, semaglutide, is a GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide-1, which mimics the GLP-1 satiety hormone in our bodies. This allows the drug to target areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake. According to the FDA, the medication dose must be gradually increased weekly to reduce gastrointestinal side effects. Patients are expected to take? stay on Wegovy long term – potentially for life – as studies show that stopping the drug results in rapid weight gain. The need to continuously take the drug long term also increases the risk of side effects.
Potential health problems
The FDA announced in 2023 that complaints made through the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) indicate potential safety concerns for these drugs. This includes the risk of intestinal blockage, which can be serious and life-threatening.
Published studies show patients taking semaglutide drugs such as Wegovy and Ozempic have an increased risk of intestinal obstructions. The risks of intestinal obstruction – a potentially fatal condition that often requires surgery – have been shown to increase by 3.5 to 4.5 times in patients taking GLP-1 receptors. The FDA is now evaluating whether additional warnings are needed because of the intestinal obstruction reports. Intestinal blockage signs and symptoms may include:
- Abdominal cramps and swelling
- Trouble having a bowel movement or passing gas
Doctors have also recently reported patients with stomach paralysis, also called gastroparesis. Stomach paralysis prevents the stomach’s nerves and muscles from working properly and results in food sitting too long in the stomach. Common symptoms of gastroparesis include:
- Bloated stomach
- Feeling full very quickly
- Upper abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
Motley Rice medical drug litigation experience
Our medical attorneys have represented thousands of patients seriously hurt by dangerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs. We understand that as a patient or family member, your knowledge of your or a loved one’s medications may be limited. If you believe a medicine made you sick or hurt you, our attorneys have the resources needed to thoroughly investigate and:
- Identify potentially harmful medicines
- Determine if the medicine hurt you
- Review the medicine manufacturer’s compliance with FDA regulations
- Confirm if the manufacture adequately warned you about potential side effects
- Identify anything the manufacturer did wrong or illegal concerning your medicine
- Recognize other issues that could affect your potential claim
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.