Weight-loss drugs can have side effects

Health officials raise concern about weight-loss drugs’ possible side effects


The label for the diabetes drug Ozempic — which has become popular for weight loss — now acknowledges reports of blocked intestines following use of the medication. The change comes after the Food and Drug Administration greenlighted a series of updates from drugmaker Novo Nordisk for its product. 

Ozempic now joins other products in this booming class of so-called GLP-1 agonist medications which acknowledge increased reports of what doctos call ileus, or a blockage in the intestines. 

Weight loss drug Wegovy, which is also an injection of semaglutide manufactured by Novo Nordisk, acknowledges reports of ileus on its label as well, as does Mounjaro, a diabetes medication from Eli Lilly.

However, the FDA stopped short of directly blaming the potentially life-threatening condition on the drug.

“Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure,” the label reads.

The FDA has received 8,571 reports of gastrointestinal disorders after use of semaglutide medications, which includes both Ozempic and Wegovy, according to data published by the regulator through June 30. 

Ileus is specifically mentioned as a reaction in 33 cases listed on the FDA’s dashboard of people taking semaglutide, including two deaths. 

Both Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are facing a lawsuit over claims that the medications can cause a similar condition called gastroparesis, or paralysis of the stomach, which stops food from reaching the small intestine despite there being no blockage.

Spokespeople for Novo Nordisk and the FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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