Popular weight loss and diabetes drugs, Ozempic and Wegovy, have reportedly caused stomach paralysis in some users.
“Life-altering side effects are causing some to question whether the benefits of the Novo Nordisk A/S (NYSE:NVO) produced medications outweigh the costs,” said CNN.
The drugs function by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1 that slows food passage through the stomach, helping users feel fuller longer. However, the stomach can slow down excessively, leading to severe gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis.
Two patients, Joanie Knight and Emily Wright, claim their debilitating conditions are the result of Novo Nordisk’s medications.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also received reports of stomach paralysis from other patients using the drugs,” said CNN. Some cases persist even after the patients stopped taking the drugs.
Novo Nordisk pointed out the long-term use and extensive study of the drugs in diabetes and obesity treatment. The company noted gastrointestinal events as side effects, according to CNN.
Dr. Michael Camilleri, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, believes the cases are due to the drugs’ mechanism of action and the lack of understanding among doctors and patients about potential problems.
Despite complications, the FDA maintains that the benefits of the medication might still outweigh its risks. Drug contraindications should only be applied in situations where risks outweigh any possible therapeutic benefit.
Gastroparesis can also be a complication of diabetes.
“Some specialists argue that gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying from GLP-1 agonists, does happen. However, most patients improve after discontinuing the medication, making persistent cases like Knight and Wright’s unusual,” said CNN.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists recently warned of the increased risk of patients regurgitating food during surgery due to Novo’s medications. This could potentially lead to pneumonia and other postoperative complications.
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