Motley Rice files for Pennsylvania woman hospitalized after taking weight-loss drug

Motley Rice medical attorneys filed a lawsuit on Sept. 19, 2023 for a Pennsylvania woman who took Wegovy® believing it to be a safe, effective way to lose weight. Instead, she alleges, she suffered severe stomach cramping, vomiting and nausea within months of starting the drug and required hospitalization to treat gastroparesis. 

The suit, filed in Pennsylvania’s Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, alleges failure to warn, negligent misrepresentation and marketing, and other violations of Pennsylvania law. 

Weight-loss drug Wegovy contains the same active ingredient as diabetes drug Ozempic®, but in a higher dosage. Both drugs are at the center of growing litigation over stomach paralysis, intestinal blockages, pancreatic cancer, gastroparesis and other ailments not included on either drug’s warning label.

Ozempic and Wegovy off-label usage

The lawsuit, the first against Novo Nordisk (NOV: NYSE) filed by Motley Rice, alleges the drugs’ manufacturer created an overinflated market for Ozempic and Wegovy by misrepresenting weight as an indicator of overall health. Novo Nordisk triggered rampant, off-label usage of Ozempic to treat weight loss and essentially gamed the healthcare system to do so, the complaint alleges, allowing for insurance coverage by marketing the drug’s use as a weight-loss aide as necessary to improve health. 

Sales of Wegovy increased 344% in the U.S. alone to nearly $1.7 billion within the first six months of 2023, according to the complaint, and sales of Ozempic increased by 50% to more than $3.7 billion. The spike is not without controversy. Some doctors estimate as many as 10% of patients ultimately discontinue use of the drugs due to the severity of side effects, and thousands have reported adverse side effects to the FDA, the complaint alleges.

“When our client began taking Wegovy, she did so believing the message that Novo worked so hard to promote – that Ozempic and Wegovy were not only safe, but necessary for lasting weight loss that would improve the health of people who took these drugs,” said Motley Rice attorney for the plaintiff Sara Couch. “Instead of the support she was looking for, our client’s life was put at risk due to complications she never knew were possible and believes Wegovy caused.”

Failure to warn and negligent misrepresentation and marketing claims

Novo Nordisk’s extensive marketing campaign seemingly targeted teens through ads on social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, the suit alleges – even prior to Wegovy’s approval to treat teens. Novo Nordisk also targeted women of color through partnerships with high profile celebrities such as Queen Latifah and Yvette Nicole Brown, according to the complaint. 

All the while, Novo downplayed side effects of the drugs while underreporting known risks to the FDA, according to the suit. The plaintiff also alleges the company’s actions directly led to inadequate warnings for potential complications including gastroparesis, gastroenteritis, intestinal blockages and malnutrition – all of which can lead to hospitalization and even death in patients. 

“Had our client known there was a possibility her health would quickly and drastically decline, which she believes is due to Wegovy, she never would have taken the drug in the first place,” said medical attorney for the plaintiff Jonathan Orent. “The number of people reporting side effects allegedly caused by these drugs increases by the day, and we seek to improve safety for patients.” 

If you or a loved one suffered after taking Ozempic, Wegovy you may contact attorney Sara Couch at any time by completing this webform or calling 1.800.768.4026 for more information or to discuss a potential claim.

Read the full complaint