The Food and Drug Administration has updated Ozempic’s label to include a warning that the type 2 diabetes drug could cause intestinal blockage.
The popular drug, which uses the base drug semaglutide — as does its sister drug Wegovy — has been a smash hit across the world. Its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, is now the biggest company in its native Denmark and is not sure if it will be able to quell demand for the drugs.
However, the weekly injections have also been the target of increased scrutiny. This week, the FDA noted another potentially harmful side effect of the drug, with the medication’s label now indicating that there have been increased reports of ileus in people who take it.
Ileus occurs when the intestines stop making the wave-like motions that push food and waste through the body. This is commonly referred to as an intestinal blockage.
Intestinal blockages can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, constipation and more. Sometimes intestinal blockages can resolve on their own, but there are instances when more aggressive treatments are needed. In some cases, an intestinal blockage could require surgery.
Ozempic and Wegovy have been touted as a potential cure all for many ailments. While initially developed for type 2 diabetes — and later for weight loss as well — the drugs have also been explored for conditions such as heart disease and alcoholism.
However, the number of reports indicating these medications come with significant drawbacks is increasing. For example, some Ozempic users have complained of “stomach paralysis.” The drug’s label does state that it can cause “delayed gastric emptying,” but some users do not feel that is an adequate warning, prompting some to go as far as to sue Novo because they feel that the side effects have interfered with their quality of life.
Other reports of Ozempic causing a decline in mental health have started to emerge recently as well, with one family in Indiana claiming that the drug is to blame for their father’s suicide. There have also been case reports of semaglutide causing acute pancreatitis in patients with diabetes.
While the drug is widely considered safe, experts caution that it should only be taken when under the supervision of an informed medical provider and should not be used to induce short-term weight loss.
Sales of the drug have skyrocketed in recent years, jumping by 300% since 2020. A recent report revealed that nearly 2% of people who saw a doctor in 2022 received a prescription for Ozempic or Wegovy.