Wegovy and Ozempic, both drugs have taken the market by storm, ever since their introduction. Wegovy is approved by FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for weight loss while ozempic is approved for diabetes. Despite this, an increasing number of people are taking ozempic for weight loss without having diabetes. Long-term use of these popular weight-loss drugs could put some patients at an increased risk for a potentially fatal gastrointestinal condition which may require surgery, as per a recent research study.
Wegovy Mechanism of Action
These drugs are injected once in a week & they mimic the action of an intestinal hormone. This hormone is produced in the intestines after ingestion of food, & is known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This hormone helps to regulate appetite & food intake. The FDA approved Wegovy in 2021 for weight management in adults with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. It’s intended especially to be used in conjunction with dieting and exercise. The FDA approved Ozempic particularly as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes in 2017.
While the drugs are widely reported to be safe, however, most of the times, they have been only studied in patients for a short duration of one year. After the one year time period, the risk of intestinal obstruction increases. This is a potentially fatal condition that requires surgery. The risk continues to rise in Type 2 diabetics, peaking around a year & a half, as published in medical journal Acta Pharmaceutical Sinica B.
This reasearch cited, among other sources, a 2022 study in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. As per this study, drugs mimicking GLP-1 cause increased insulin secretion, which is ofcourse helpful in lowering blood glucose levels. However, it can also reduce gastrointestinal motility, leading to constipation & eventually potential intestinal obstruction.
Drugs mimicking GLP-1 may cause “continuous increase in intestinal length”, causing the small intestine to become inelastic & fibrotic like a loose spring.
“Unfortunately, clinical trials so far have not been able to show any such changes in the human gut. This could be because “it is difficult to determine the length of the small intestine in adults” as per the new study..
Since intestinal obstruction is a fatal condition which needs surgery, clinicians should be aware that the emerging chronic adverse effects in patients on such drugs may involve serious conditions in the small intestine.
Other Side Effects
Apart from this, these medications could also cause some other serious side effects. The more serious effects are associated more with wegovy in comparison to ozempic since it’s given at a higher concentration.
- Stones in gallbladder
- Gallbladder inflammation
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood sugar
- Risk of thyroid cancer
- Allergic reaction
A huge number of American adults are obese or overweight, according to FDA.
The use of these drugs among celebrities like Elon Musk raised the demand for Wegovy, which helps overweight patients lose about 15% of their body weight. The demand for these drugs is so high that manufacturer Novo Nordisk expects their profits to rise by nearly 20% this year, propelled in part by the sale of wegovy.