If you keep up with health news, you’re probably familiar with GLP-1 agonists like Wegovy and Ozempic. But what you may not know is that these “miracle drugs” can come with extreme side effects that have lifelong impacts. You also may not realize that 81% of Ozempic and Wegovy users are women – so even if you’re not taking a GLP-1 agonist, you may know someone who is, and this is important for you to hear.
Ozepmic and Wegovy are produced by pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk and, within the last few years, have become FDA-approved in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity, respectively. The two drugs are extremely similar; in fact, at the chemical level, their active ingredients are identical, and they share a generic name (semaglutide). The main difference between Ozempic and Wegovy, and the reason why the FDA approved them for different indications, is their dosing. In addition to these two widely known drugs, Mounjaro, Trulicity, and Saxenda are close relatives that are gaining similar popularity.
Ozempic’s Rise to Fame
Recently, drugs of the GLP-1 class have boomed because roughly 10% of Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes and over 40% of Americans are obese. According to the CDC, data on both of these chronic conditions are inaccurately low because millions of people go undiagnosed annually.
American culture has welcomed Ozempic and Wegovy with open arms – just look at how many celebrities, influencers, and politicians have publicly celebrated it. Notice how many media headlines mention the “Ozempic shortage” and subsequently how many other pharmaceutical manufacturers are racing to produce a similar drug. It’s no wonder that this injectable weight loss drug has become so popular – users see significant effects at a rapid rate. But at what cost to their health and well-being?
A large part of Ozempic and similar drugs’ popularity is their efficacy. According to Wegovy’s clinical trial data, 83% of adults lost 5% of their body weight and 66% lost 10% of their body weight while taking the drug. Further, ozempic.com claims that patients lose double the weight on Ozempic compared to Trulicity and other competitors.
Note that these weight loss percentages only apply to patients while taking the medication. Studies have shown that patients will gain back over 50% of their lost weight within five years after stopping Ozempic or Wegovy because the body desperately tries to dig itself out of the calorie deficit. A different August 2022 study showed that, on average, two-thirds of lost weight will be gained back upon stopping Ozempic. Some users, namely plus-sized TikTok influencer Remi Bader, claim that they “gain double the weight back” after quitting Ozempic.
On an episode of Dear Media's Not Skinny But Not Fat podcast, Bader opened up about her battle with binge eating made worse by Ozempic: "It was making me think I wasn't hungry for so long. I lost some weight. I didn't want to be obsessed with being on it long term.” When Bader stopped the weekly semaglutide injections, she shared that her binging worsened, and after reading similar stories and looking at study data, Bader blamed Ozempic. The TikTok star’s doctors affirmed that her experience is a widely shared one among ex-Ozempic users.
New York City-based endocrinologist Dr. Gregory Dodell told the Wall Street Journal that even despite clean eating and regular fitness, patients can expect to gain back weight. “Most likely, you’re going to end up eating what you were before and maybe more because the body has been in something like a starvation mode, and it’s trying to catch up,” said Dr. Dodell. “It’s not a matter of willpower and self-control.”
The Dark Side of the Newest Blockbuster Drug
Big Pharma and the media alike have pushed a pro-semaglutide agenda on us long enough. While Ozempic and similar drugs have the capability to change some people’s lives for the better, it can just as easily destroy others. It’s time to do your own research and start listening to an alternate narrative.
From 2018 through 2021, a middle-aged woman named Dawn Gentle took Ozempic for her type 2 diabetes, Healthline reported. While she at first praised the drug’s effectiveness, she later voiced her regret toward Ozempic due to its life-changing side effects. In 2021, Gentle was rushed to the emergency room and diagnosed with pancreatitis and later pancreatic cancer. Pancreatitis is a condition marked by inflammation in the pancreas. It’s a rare but still possible side effect of GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic because these medications stimulate insulin secretion, causing the pancreas to become overworked.
When checked into the emergency room, doctors instructed Gentle to quit Ozempic immediately because they considered the drug to be responsible for her pancreatitis. However, the link between her cancerous tumor and Ozepmic was deemed a correlation rather than causation by other medical professionals. Due to her devastating experience, Gentle voiced her regret loudly: “If I knew what the side effects were and how severe [they could be], I would have never gone on it.”
On a less severe but still scary level, Mila Clarke, known on YouTube as “The Hangry Woman,” had to quit Ozempic after 10 months due to heart palpitations. She visited several doctors, including heart specialists, whose only explanation for her irregular heartbeat was Ozempic. While the YouTuber celebrated the drug for its efficacy, her shortness of breath and tight chest became unbearable. Even after quitting Ozempic, Clarke’s heart rate has not returned to normalcy. What’s even more alarming is that despite several patients sharing Clarke’s experience, Novo Nordisk left irregular heartbeat off the drug’s long list of possible side effects.
“It’s not worth it. The price is too high.”
In a recent CNN article, several more women shared their horrifying experiences on Ozempic. A Louisiana woman named Joanie Knight told CNN she wished she’d never touched Ozempic because it compromised her time, money, and mental and physical health. “It’s not worth it. The price is too high,” the patient shared. Knight eventually had to undergo stomach bypass surgery in order to live a semi-normal life. Now, her day-to-day life has improved, but her stomach will never return to its healthier, pre-Ozempic state.
Brenda Allen from Dallas claimed that though she’s been off Wegovy for a year, she still occasionally visits Urgent Care after vomiting to the point of dehydration. A Toronto patient named Emily Wright echoed similar sentiments, sharing that her vomiting became so frequent and violent that she took a leave of absence from her job. While on Ozempic, she noticed that she was throwing up food she had eaten even up to four days prior.
In an article written by Rolling Stone, a woman named Kimberly Carew claimed that she suffered from frequent vomiting, muscle spasms, and joint and back pain while taking Ozempic. When she initially explained her symptoms to her doctor, she was told to keep taking the drug, highlighting the scary fact that even healthcare professionals are hypnotized by the power of Ozempic. Desperate for someone to empathize with her, Carew turned to TikTok to share her story, and was met with negativity, doubt, and accusations of lying. She ultimately deleted her videos.
These women and others experiencing similar symptoms have been diagnosed with “slow stomach,” cyclic vomiting syndrome, or even worse, gastroparesis – all conditions about which little is known. Doctors believe that gastroparesis, also known as stomach paralysis, is a byproduct of semaglutides because these drugs slow down digestion to a potentially dangerous rate. Gastroparesis exists when the stomach motility is severely impaired, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and bleeding, malnutrition, and more. While the direct cause of gastroparesis is unknown and the condition is incurable, research has uncovered that changes to diet and lifestyle can improve symptoms.
Is Big Pharma To Blame?
What’s possibly more terrifying than these women’s life-altering experiences is the fact that Novo Nordisk and other semaglutide manufacturers left cautions of possible gastroparesis off the drug’s safety labels despite clinical trial data highlighting this problem. CNN findings reported that in Wegovy clinical trials, 44% of patients reported nausea and 25% reported frequent vomiting – both of which are common symptoms of gastroparesis. Similarly, in Ozempic trials, 20% reported nausea and 10% reported vomiting.
Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are being sued for “downplaying the severity” of gastrointestinal implications caused by their drugs.
But now, pharmaceutical giants could pay for this important safety label omission. Semaglutide user Jaclyn Bjorklund grew tired of suffering from constant stomach pain, nausea, and violent vomiting. In early August 2023, Bjorklund sued Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly for “downplaying the severity” of gastroparesis and other severe gastrointestinal implications caused by their weight loss medications. Bjorklund suffered from such severe vomiting that she was hospitalized and lost teeth as a result.
Both Ozempic and Mounjaro labels warn against slow digestion and mention side effects like nausea and vomiting, but neither explicitly states the possible risk of gastroparesis. Spokespersons from both pharmaceutical manufacturers voiced that patient safety is their “top priority” but reiterated that extreme gastrointestinal implications are rare. Follow updates on the case here.
Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar GLP-1 agonists can pose serious dangers to users’ health, especially if taken off-label. Allow these women’s tragic stories to be cautionary tales, and remember to always do extensive research before making a decision that could put your health at risk. Finally, if you’re currently taking a semaglutide, remember to make lifestyle changes in conjunction with the medication. You’re much more likely to experience fewer side effects and greater efficacy if you stay active, adjust your diet, and practice mindfulness and self-care. It is, and never will be enough, to simply rely on a pharmaceutical product to fix your health.
These women’s experiences are just a glimpse into the Ozempic horror stories that exist out there. As many of these women echoed, no medication can replace healthy habits like fitness and a nutritious diet.
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