Health & Lifestyle

The shocking side effects of Ozempic causing a wave of ER visits in America

Weight-watchers on Ozempic and other versions of the drug are causing a surge in visits to the Emergency Room, experts warn.

Some doctors have spoken out on social media about a rise in patients on Ozempic and Wegovy coming to hospitals with violent diarrhea, bloating and nausea — three of the more severe side effects of the fat-loss injection.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also raised the alarm over a rise in risky counterfeit versions of the drug, which are being sold by rogue pharmacies cashing on huge demand for the treatments and also causing waves of sickness.

Some doctors say that they are seeing more patients on the drug — taken as a weekly injection — in hospitals than ever before (stock image)

Some doctors say that they are seeing more patients on the drug — taken as a weekly injection — in hospitals than ever before (stock image)

Elon Musk has used Ozempic to slim down in recent years. He's pictured above attending the Vanity Fair Oscars party in 2020

Elon Musk has used Ozempic to slim down in recent years. He’s pictured above attending the Vanity Fair Oscars party in 2020

Warning over rising admissions linked to the drug, one ER doctor — who goes by the Twitter handle @thatERguy — wrote on Twitter: ‘The amount of people coming to the ER for the side effects of Ozempic.’

They added, describing the reasons for admissions: ‘Diarrhea. Nausea. Bloating.’

Social media has also been awash with users claiming to have fallen so sick after taking the drugs that they wound up in hospital.

They include Joy McClellan, from Arizona, who said she was ‘almost killed’ by a counterfeit version of Ozempic.

‘Two ER trips and six days in the hospital. I’m lucky I didn’t die, but someone is going to,’ she wrote online.

In another US-based case, Twitter user Joshua Schiff said a close family member was hospitalized within two weeks of taking semaglutide with severe pancreatitis — a painful inflammation of the pancreas.

‘The hospitalization lasted for six days and landed them with a $30,000 hospital bill and (possible) long-term damage to their pancreas.’

They added: ‘Be careful with this stuff.’

And a third woman claimed on Twitter that just two injections of semaglutide led to their husband being admitted to hospital with a ‘gallstone attack’.

‘[It was his] worst ever and nearly needed surgery — a very high risk for him,’ she added.

At the end of May, the FDA also cautioned over increasing reports of side effects in people taking the drug — which had likely been reported by medical centers.

They linked the uptick to ‘compounded’, or cocktail, versions of the medication.

These become available when pharmacies start to make their own versions because they do not have enough supply to meet prescriptions.

In their release, the agency said: ‘FDA has received adverse event reports after patients used compounded semaglutide.’

Asked about the uptick today, a spokeswoman for the FDA said: ‘The agency is continuing to evaluate reports submitted to validate and assess any safety trends with the compounded formulations of semaglutide.’ 

Dr Laurie Keefer, a health psychologist at Mount Sinai based in New York, previously told CBS News that she had seen a rise in patients on Ozempic coming into hospital.

She said they were later diagnosed with gallstones or kidney failure.

More than eight in ten people on semaglutide — the drug behind Ozempic and Wegovy — suffer side effects while on the drug, according to its clinical trial on 2,000 obese adults with results published in 2021.

Remi Bader pictured last night attending the Oscars in Los Angeles, California

Chelsea Handler pictured arriving at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party in 2020

Plus-size model and TikTok star Remi Bader also revealed that she used Ozempic (left). Comedian Chelsea Handler has admitted using the shot too

These tended to be ‘mild-to-moderate’ in severity, the paper noted — and included problems like diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and nausea.

But nearly one in ten patients also faced severe side-effects which, in some cases, led to them discontinuing the use of the medication.

This included the emergence of a gallbladder-related disorder — such as gallstones — or pancreatitis.

There were no figures given for how many patients ended up visiting the ER or were hospitalized overnight due to side effects.

Since the study, other side effects have emerged, including muscle loss, being repulsed by your favorite foods and even bizarre dreams. 

Prescriptions for the drugs have spiraled more than 2,000 percent in just three years, from 230,000 a year in 2019 to more than five million last year alone — and are projected to keep rising.

The drug is a GLP-1 receptor, which triggers hormones in the brain that keep the stomach full and tell the body to stop eating and avoid cravings.

Doctors had to start rationing Ozempic in May after its popularity as a weight-loss drug led to widespread shortages nationwide. 

Their popularity has led to delays in getting the medication to pharmacies across the country, leading many to start mixing their own versions. 

Novo Nordisk, which is behind Ozempic and Wegovy, has been contacted for comment.  

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