Miracle Weight Loss Drugs Could Have A Deadly Side Effect, Researchers Say

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James Lynch Contributor
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Weight loss drugs Wegovy and Ozempic, hailed as miracle treatments by Hollywood and medical scientists, could have deadly side effects, Chinese researchers found.

Wegovy and Ozempic are brand names for an injectable version of semaglutide, a diabetes medication shown to cause weight loss by mimicking glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a small intestinal hormone that slows down digestion. (RELATED: Pharma Giant Eli Lilly Promises To Slash Insulin Prices By 70%)

Chinese researchers observed that users of semaglutide and similar medications exhibit higher rates of intestinal obstruction, which occurs when a blockage prevents food or liquid from passing through the small or large intestine, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“While their efficacies and safety profiles are widely accepted, long-term adverse events such as increased risk of intestinal obstruction have been reported in diabetic patients, which is 4.5 times higher than those receiving other glucose control medications,” the study observes. “A real-world study of 25,617 subjects demonstrated a 3.5-fold increase in the intestinal obstruction rate associated with GLP-1RA treatment.”

Symptoms of intestinal obstruction include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, constipation, vomiting and the inability to pass gas. If left untreated, the blocked parts of the intestine can die from a lack of blood supply. An infection in the abdominal cavity, peritonitis, is a life threatening condition that can also result from untreated intestinal blockage.

Researchers used lab rats to study the long term effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists. In three months, rats had an 43% increase in small intestine length on average, while noting that clinical trials of humans did not show the same effect. Their study is soon to be published in a leading pharmacology journal.

Researchers attribute the lack of human intestinal blockage to the difficulty of measuring an adult small intestine and the similarity of symptoms with constipation. They backed up their findings with studies published in 2020 and 2022 showing similar results in GLP-1RA drug treatment.

“Gastrointestinal side effects are well-known side effects of the GLP-1 RA class,” a spokesperson for Ozempic manufacturer Novo Norodisk told the New York Post. “The majority are of mild to moderate severity and of short duration.”

The spokesperson added that Novo Norodisk conducted in-house clinical studies of up to 2.5 years in duration. Independent researchers told the Daily Mail the drugs should be safe, as long as doctors evaluate their patients’ intestinal health.

Ozempic and Wegovy have been used for weight loss by Elon Musk, Chelsea Handler and other celebrities. Studies have shown significant weight reductions for obese people using semaglutide paired with lifestyle interventions.