Popular weight loss drugs linked to rare but severe stomach problems, study finds

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People who take popular drugs for weight loss, such as Ozempic or Wegovy, may be at an increased risk of severe stomach problems, research published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds.

The brief report is the first study of its kind, the researchers say, to establish a link between the use of these drugs, called GLP-1 agonists, for weight loss and the risk of such gastrointestinal conditions. GLP-1 agonists include semaglutide — the drug found in Ozempic and Wegovy — and liraglutide, the drug used in Saxenda. Both drugs are made by Novo Nordisk.

“Although rare, the incidence of these adverse events can happen. I’ve seen it happen,” said lead author Mohit Sodhi, a medical student at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine in Vancouver. “People should know what they’re getting into.” 

The drugs were originally developed to help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels but were later found to be effective for weight loss.