People taking the prescription weight loss drugs Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus have developed severe gastrointestinal problems.
Conditions like gallbladder disease and stomach paralysis can disrupt your life and cause a great deal of pain and discomfort—and, in some cases, even more life-changing consequences.
Drugmakers are facing a growing number of lawsuits on behalf of patients across the country who suffered gastrointestinal problems after taking Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus. If you believe the weight loss medication could be the culprit behind your suffering, too, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
The Ozempic drug injury attorneys at Console & Associates, P.C. are seeking to interview patients injured by semaglutide weight loss drugs. Get your case reviewed and your questions answered at no cost. Just call 866-778-5500 today or complete our online form for a free, confidential consultation.
For tens of millions of Americans, losing weight isn’t easy. Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus are prescription medications that doctors have prescribed to patients to treat type 2 diabetes and facilitate weight loss.
Ozempic is the brand name for a weight loss drug produced by Novo Nordisk. The active ingredient in Ozempic and related drugs is semaglutide. Ozempic is a form of semaglutide that is delivered as an injection.
Although it’s now widely known as a weight loss drug, Ozempic actually wasn’t approved for the purpose of weight management in the first place. The Food & Drug Administration approved Ozempic for the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes in 2017. The off-label use of facilitating weight loss is what subsequently made Ozempic and related medications “blockbuster drugs.” Ozempic prescriptions made drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk $3.7 billion in the first half of 2023 alone, according to CNBC.
Rybelsus is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist in the form of an oral pill. Like Ozempic, Rybelsus is only FDA-approved to treat diabetes, not for weight loss. Yet this drug, too, has been used off-label for weight loss.
Although Rybelsus sales didn’t quite hit the lofty heights Novo Nordisk anticipated, its sales still more than doubled year over year as of 2023, bringing in $645.9 million for the company.
Wegovy is a newer entrant to the market, approved in 2021. Unlike Rybelsus and Ozempic, Wegovy was actually approved for weight loss.
This injection is approved for weight management for adults who are obese (as defined as a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher). Wegovy has also been approved for those who are overweight (as defined as a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or higher) and have one or more other weight-related conditions.
Late-stage clinical trial results published in June 2023 indicated that patients taking Wegovy lost an average of 15% of their body weight.
In August 2023, results from the years-long SELECT clinical trial, which concluded that Wegovy “reduces the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events by 20%,” increased the demand for the weight loss drug.
As a type 2 diabetes drug, Ozempic’s mechanism of action is to mimic the naturally-occurring hormone glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1. GLP-1 reduces blood sugar by prompting the production of more insulin in the body.
However, that’s not the only effect of GLP-1. As the FDA reported, “GLP-1 in higher amounts also interacts with the parts of the brain that reduce appetite and signal a feeling of fullness.”
Essentially, Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus facilitate weight loss by slowing down the time it takes for food to pass through the stomach. When food takes longer to leave the stomach, you feel full longer, too. This effect helps you to eat less without feeling hungry and, in turn, lose weight.
Although the purpose of taking Ozempic and other GLP-1 class drugs for weight loss is to slow the emptying of the stomach to support weight loss, slowing the emptying of the stomach too much can pose a serious problem. When food lingers in the stomach for too long, it can lead to gastrointestinal events—which, for some people, can be recurring and severe enough to interrupt their lives.
Alarmingly, exactly how semaglutide weight loss drugs like Ozempic work is something that “not many doctors or patients understand,” CNN Health reported in July 2023.
In fact, that’s part of the reason behind the lawsuits. The current Ozempic lawsuits allege that the pharmaceutical manufacturer failed to adequately warn both doctors and patients about risks such as stomach paralysis and other severe gastrointestinal side effects.
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When a patient’s doctor prescribes Ozempic to help make weight loss a little easier, the natural assumption is that the medication is safe. After all, it’s prescribed to you by your own doctor. What could go wrong?
Unfortunately, patients harmed by Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus have dealt with persistent nausea, recurring vomiting, and much more. For some patients, these effects have been severe enough to prevent them from having a social life, enjoying their favorite activities, and even working to provide for themselves and their families. In some instances, the problems for which people are currently suing the makers of Ozempic can be life-threatening.
As of June 30, 2023, 8,571 instances of gastrointestinal disorders following semaglutide medication use had been reported to the FDA, according to CBS News. Here are some of the serious conditions that have led to Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus lawsuits.
The stomach is more than just a receptacle for the food you have eaten. It’s a muscular organ that is responsible for breaking down food and passing it through the next stage of the digestive system, the small intestine.
When the stomach muscles aren’t able to function normally, the organ’s ability to break down food and pass what remains into the small intestine is compromised.
In people with normally functioning digestive systems, less than 10% of food remains in the stomach four hours after eating, CNN reported. The stomach stays significantly fuller for a longer time in people with a condition called gastroparesis, otherwise known as stomach paralysis.
Mild gastroparesis refers to between 10% and 15% of food remaining in the stomach four hours later. If 15% to 35% of food stays in the stomach for four hours, it’s considered moderate gastroparesis. When more than 35% of the food remains in the stomach four hours later, it’s severe gastroparesis.
What happens when the stomach remains too full of food too long after you’ve eaten? Gastroparesis can cause symptoms such as:
These symptoms can get in the way of working, family time, and enjoying your life. At times, they can be downright dangerous.
For example, patients who are preparing to undergo surgery are often advised not to eat anything for eight to twelve hours before the procedure. Fasting this long means that, in people with normally functioning digestive systems, the stomach will be empty of food. An empty stomach reduces the risk that the patient could develop complications that arise from aspirating stomach contents into their lungs during or after the procedure.
If a patient is suffering from gastroparesis, though, their stomach may be full long after they begin fasting. In fact, the American Society of Anesthesiologists issued a warning in June 2023 advising patients to stop taking these drugs in advance of planned surgery. In its warning, the organization cited “concerns that delayed gastric emptying from GLP-1 agonists can increase the risk of regurgitation and pulmonary aspiration of gastric contents during general anesthesia and deep sedation.”
Although having diabetes is itself a factor that can cause gastroparesis, this outcome is usually only seen in patients who have had “chronically high blood sugars that have damaged the nerves that control the stomach” over a decade or longer, CNN reported. For many of the Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus patients who have presented with stomach paralysis, that’s not the case. These aren’t the patients with the history doctors expect to see when diabetes itself is the cause of the gastroparesis.
Some recent research studies have backed up the concern over medications like Ozempic delaying gastric emptying. For example, a 2022 article published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism concluded that, among women with polycystic ovary syndrome and obesity, “four hours after ingestion, semaglutide retained 37% of solid meal in the stomach compared to no gastric retention in the placebo group.” That percentage aligns with the 35% and higher gastric retention that characterizes a diagnosis of severe gastroparesis.
If there’s any doubt that the effects of gastroparesis can be life-changing, an article published in the journal StatPearls in 2022 noted that “a study done at a tertiary center suggested 7% of gastroparesis patients had died, and 22% of patients needed long-term enteral or parenteral nutrition after six years follow up.” That finding, the researchers noted, “indicates gastroparesis could be associated with significant mortality and morbidity.”
Gastroparesis isn’t the only serious gastrointestinal condition linked to Ozempic. Patients have also developed a condition called ileus, in which a blockage that isn’t due to structural problems occurs in the intestines. Like gastroparesis, ileus stops the remains of food that has been consumed from passing through the digestive system normally.
Patients suffering from ileus might experience symptoms like:
This condition can lead to serious complications, including infections, jaundice, perforation of the intestine, and tissue death (also called gangrene).
Ileus, in particular, occurred in dozens of cases of reported adverse reactions to medications containing semaglutide, including multiple fatal reactions, CBS reported.
Gallbladder disease is another condition that has been associated with drugs like Ozempic. A 2022 article published in JAMA Internal Medicine concluded, based on a literature review of more than 75 research studies, “among all included trials, randomization to GLP-1 RA treatment was associated with increased risks of gallbladder or biliary diseases.”
Specific gallbladder issues that have been reported among patients using GLP-1 receptor agonist medications, such as Ozempic, include the following:
Gallbladder removal is a major surgery, although a fairly common one. Like all surgeries, it poses the potential for complications, as well as pain while healing, a weeks-long recovery period, and the financial costs of surgery and recovery. If you have your gallbladder removed, you may need to make permanent changes to your diet to compensate for this missing organ that would normally aid in the digestion of fat in the foods you eat.
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“Although the prescription information for the drug warns of nausea and vomiting, it mentions only that the drug causes a delay in stomach emptying as a warning that it might affect the absorption of other medications,” CNN Health reported. A patient reading the prescription information may not know that this vomiting can be as frequent as daily or multiple times a day.
Only in September 2023 was a warning about the gastrointestinal disorder ileus, which refers to a potentially life-threatening blockage in the intestines, added to the drug label, according to CBS News. Gastroparesis still hasn’t been added to the label as of October 2023, at which time the Food & Drug Administration was “continuing to monitor” reports involving gastroparesis specifically, CBS notes.
Gastrointestinal issues that arise from taking Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus can affect your life in serious ways. Some of the harms that people taking Ozempic and related drugs have reported include:
For too many patients, the consequences of taking Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus have amounted to much more than mild and temporary stomach discomfort. The adverse events from taking these physician-prescribed weight loss drugs can change your life. Certain complications, like ileus and anesthesia aspiration, can even be fatal.
Patients affected by Ozempic injuries and their families have legal rights. Like others currently pursuing Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus lawsuits, you may be able to hold drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk accountable for the harm its medications have caused.
The damages plaintiffs are seeking in Ozemipc lawsuits include:
The losses you have suffered are real, and they’re way too costly for you to have to bear the burden alone. Patients across the United States are filing legal actions to hold Ozempic’s manufacturer accountable—and so can you.
If you have already been diagnosed with a condition like gastroparesis, ileus, or gallbladder disease, learning that drugs like Ozempic may be the cause can feel like the missing piece of the puzzle. You already know, probably from a lengthy medical ordeal, what is wrong. Now, you finally have an explanation as to why you’ve been suffering.
If you’re still taking Ozempic, Wegovy or Rybelsus, it may make sense to speak to your doctor about alternatives that are less likely to harm your stomach.
For many patients who have been dealing with gastrointestinal symptoms for a while now, this news may be the first time they realize that the medicine has anything to do with their issues. They may not have realized that the severity of their symptoms is beyond what’s reasonable for them to put up with.
If you have been struggling with issues like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, you should bring your concerns to your doctor right away. There are ways doctors can determine if your stomach emptying is delayed, such as by conducting a gastric emptying study. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different drug to manage your type 2 diabetes or help you explore alternative ways of losing weight.
Patients who have been diagnosed with gastroparesis or who suspect they may be suffering from this condition should also consult an Ozempic pharmaceutical injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you better understand your legal rights and options. The sooner you get in touch with our experienced drug injury lawyers, the sooner we can begin documenting all of your damages and fighting for the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Hundreds of patients affected by Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus injuries have already taken action. One of the first such lawsuits was filed in August 2023 over the drugmakers’ alleged failure to warn doctors and users of the drugs’ risks, CBS News reported. The lawsuit also includes as a defendant drug manufacturer Eli Lilly, the maker of a similar drug called Mounjaro.
To have the grounds to file an Ozempic injury lawsuit, you need to meet the following criteria:
If you’re not sure if the symptoms you’re experiencing qualify for an Ozempic lawsuit, try talking to our experienced team. We can help you figure out what legal options are available to you and what steps you need to take next.
The prospect of filing a lawsuit against a multinational pharmaceutical company can be intimidating. You might worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer and undertaking a lawsuit and about how much time and energy you will have to devote to the legal matter—especially when you’re feeling sick.
Let us ease your mind. Lawyers are handling Ozempic injury lawsuits for injured patients across the country on a no-win, no-fee basis. You pay nothing for legal representation unless and until your attorney succeeds in getting you financial compensation. You can also count on your lawyer to handle every aspect of your claim, from documenting your damages and navigating the legal process to fighting for the settlement or jury award you deserve. Once your claim is in the competent hands of an Ozempic drug injury attorney, all you have to do is focus on your physical recovery.
At Console & Associates, we understand how much complications from taking Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus can affect your life. We’re ready to answer your questions, evaluate your case for free, and advise you on moving forward with a claim. For a no-cost consultation and case review, call 866-778-5500 or contact us online today.