New Study Reveals Increased Risks of Gastroparesis, Pancreatitis, and Bowel Obstruction with GLP-1 Agonists

In an important new study conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia, findings have emerged regarding the potential side effects of a popular class of medications called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists. GLP-1 agonist drugs, like Ozempic (semaglutide), are primarily approved for the treatment of diabetes. However, the medications have gained popularity recently for off-label use as weight-loss aids. This new study reveals that this class of medications carries an increased risk of gastrointestinal complications, including gastroparesis, pancreatitis, and bowel obstruction. If you or someone you love has suffered serious gastrointestinal side effects allegedly caused by treatment with Ozempic, Wegovy, or another GLP-1 agonist drug, contact Consumer Safety Watch today for help.

GLP-1 Agonists and Their Off-Label Use

GLP-1 agonists are a class of medications that mimic the effects of glucagon-like peptide 1, a naturally occurring hormone in the body. These medications stimulate the release of insulin, suppress appetite, and slow down digestion. While initially developed for the management of diabetes, GLP-1 agonists have become increasingly popular off-label for weight loss purposes. In fact, because of Ozempic’s popularity as a weight-loss aid, the manufacturer developed Wegovy, a higher-dose version of the drug specifically approved for weight loss. Although these medications have been marketed as safe and effective, recent studies have found these drugs to be linked to an increased risk of severe gastrointestinal side effects, such as stomach paralysis (gastroparesis), bowel obstruction, and pancreatitis. 

The GLP-1 Agonist Study and its Methodology

To compare the use of GLP-1 agonists for weight loss to the use of an active comparator, bupropion-naltrexone, a weight loss agent unrelated to GLP-1 agonists, the University of British Columbia research team conducted a comprehensive analysis using the PharMetrics Plus database, which includes data from 2006 to 2020. They examined a random sample of 16 million patients and focused on new users of semaglutide and liraglutide, two main GLP-1 agonists, and bupropion-naltrexone. 

According to the researchers, the study cohort consisted of 4,144 liraglutide users, 612 semaglutide users, and 654 bupropion-naltrexone users. Patients were observed from their first prescription of semaglutide, liraglutide, or bupropion-naltrexone, until the first incidence of biliary disease, pancreatitis, bowel obstruction, or gastroparesis, through the end of the study period (June 2020).  

Increased Risks of Gastroparesis, Pancreatitis, and Bowel Obstruction

The results of the study revealed concerning risks associated with the use of GLP-1 agonists for weight loss. Compared to users of bupropion-naltrexone, those taking GLP-1 agonists faced a significantly higher risk of pancreatitis, gastroparesis, and bowel obstruction. Incidence rates for biliary disease, however, did not show a statistically significant increase.

The adjusted hazard ratios revealed a nine-fold increased risk of pancreatitis for GLP-1 agonist users compared to bupropion-naltrexone users. The risk of bowel obstruction was four times higher, and the risk of gastroparesis was more than three times higher in the GLP-1 agonist group. These findings emphasize the importance of considering the risk-benefit balance for individuals contemplating the use of GLP-1 agonists for weight loss, especially when compared to those using them for diabetes management.

Pursuing Claims Against Drug Manufacturers

This and other recent studies have shed light on the increased risks of gastroparesis, pancreatitis, and bowel obstruction associated with the use of GLP-1 agonists, findings that have led to a growing number of drug injury lawsuits against the manufacturers of Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar medications. Patients who have experienced complications such as gastroparesis, pancreatitis, or bowel obstruction may be eligible to pursue legal claims based on allegations of inadequate warning labels and failure to inform patients and healthcare providers about the risks involved. “Given the wide use of these drugs, these adverse events, although rare, must be considered by patients who are contemplating using the drugs for weight loss because the risk-benefit calculus for this group might differ from that of those who use them for diabetes,” the University of British Columbia researchers warn. 

Contact Consumer Safety Watch for Help

Individuals who have experienced complications during or after treatment with Ozempic, Wegovy, or similar GLP-1 agonist medications may have legal recourse to seek compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered harm or experienced adverse effects from the use of Ozempic or Wegovy, it is crucial to seek legal guidance from an experienced drug injury attorney. They can help evaluate your case, determine your eligibility for compensation, and guide you through the legal process. Contact us today and we can help put you in touch with an attorney who specializes in drug injury claims.

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