Reports of blocked intestines have led the FDA to update the label for diabetes and weight-loss drug Ozempic. The active ingredient in Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro, semiglutide, has reports of ileus, or blocked intestines in some users, though the FDA made it clear that because the side effects are self-reported, it cannot say for certain semiglutide is explicitly to blame.
“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 FDA update explains.
Ozempic Side Effects
Gastrointestinal distress is not a new symptom when it comes to these drugs and is frequently mentioned as a major downside with over 8,500 reported cases to the FDA. Intestinal blockages are a bit different—they require immediate medical attention and are considered a medical emergency. 33 cases of intestinal blockage are currently listed by the FDA, including two deaths.
According to New York gastroenterologist and weight-loss expert, Steven Batash, MD, these side effects have often been found to occur when semiglutide is overused. “The overuse of Ozempic can lead to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation,” Dr. Batash explains. “More serious side effects include allergic reactions, changes in vision, and pancreatitis.”
The popularity of these drugs has skyrocketed recently, and so has using these diabetes drugs off-label.
“It is extremely important to choose the right patient, and with proper screening, see if medications can be an effective tool for that patient, and avoid complications,” Dr. Batash says. “GLP 1 agonists like Ozempic are effective but need to be administered under medical supervision and we need to carefully screen patients before putting them on these or other medications.”
In light of the FDA’s decision to update the label, Novo Nordisk, who manufactures Wegovy, expressed a commitment to working with the FDA “to continuously monitor the safety profile of our medicines,” according to a statement.
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