If you are taking these two medicines, you may suffer from stomach paralysis! If you are crazy about losing weight fast, then be careful

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
6 Min Read

New Delhi: To lose weight, it is better to adopt measures like controlling eating habits, lifestyle changes and exercise. If you resort to medicines, then be careful. A new American study says that the medicines Wegovy and Ozempic taken for rapid weight loss can have the risk of serious side effects. This also includes stomach paralysis. Paralysis of the stomach causes delay in emptying of the stomach. Paralysis of the stomach can lead to unexpected weight loss, malnutrition and other complications, which may require treatment ranging from surgery.

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Big revelation in American study

The study reported that people taking Wegovy and Ozempic, known as GLP-1 agonist drugs, had a 30% higher risk of developing gastric paralysis compared with people not taking these drugs. Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs), also known as GLP-1 agonists, are a class of drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The report, presented at the medical conference Digestive Diseases Week 2024 in Washington on Saturday, is based on an analysis of records of more than 3 lakh people with diabetes and obesity, of whom 1.65 lakh were prescribed GLP-1 agonists. It is known to slow down stomach emptying and stimulate insulin production, among other things.

Be careful if you are taking medicines

Dr Prateek Sharma, professor of medicine at the University of Kansas, who led the study group, told our sister newspaper Times of India (TOI) that stomach paralysis is a rare side effect of these drugs, but not so with GLP-1 drugs or weight loss drugs. It is important to alert people about this given the excessive use of drugs. He said, 'These drugs are new and while the positive effects are well established and talked about, we still have to find out the full extent of their long-term side effects and so I think people who take them should be careful.'

These medicines are secretly available in India

Wegovy and Ozempic are not legally available in India. However, reports suggest that many people buy these drugs through the grey market at exorbitant prices. Recently, a Danish company Novo Nordisk has launched 'Rybelsus' in India in tablet form which contains semaglutide, the main ingredient of Ozempic. It is approved for diabetes management, but doctors say the drug is also being used 'off-label' for weight loss.

Wegovy and Ozempic were also initially approved for diabetes management. But when reports emerged that it could help reduce weight by 10-15% within a year, the US FDA allowed its restricted use in people suffering from obesity as well. Soon, the drug group created a buzz across the world as other celebrities including Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey said they were using it.

Dr Anoop Mishra, chairman, Fortis C-Doc, said that Ribelsus is very expensive and its prescription for a month costs more than Rs 10,000. He said, 'Given the popularity of these drugs, it is likely that in the near future we will get these medicines easily and that too at a lower price. This is a good thing because these drugs have proven to be effective in controlling blood sugar, reducing weight and even managing chronic kidney disease. But the medical community as well as the general public need to be aware of its side effects.

The more fried food you eat, the shorter your life will be… If you are addicted to snacks then read this report.

Learn what Wegovy and Ozempic do

According to Dr Randhir Sood, head of the department of digestive and hepatobiliary sciences at Medanta Hospital, drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic start their work by slowing down the movement of the stomach, thus reducing appetite. “People may experience nausea and vomiting when they start taking the drug, but in most cases these side effects are likely to be minor,” he said. I have not seen any case of stomach paralysis yet, but these are early days for its use in India.

In the US study, Sharma and his colleagues used a large database to analyse the health records of more than 120 million patients, focusing on people with diabetes and obesity. They compared patients taking GLP-1 drugs to a control group, matching them on demographics and health factors. They found that after one year, 32% of GLP-1 users experienced gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, GERD and paralysis of the stomach. This means that while GLP-1 users underwent more GI-related procedures, they had slightly fewer ER visits and hospitalisations. “This shows that while GLP-1 drugs do increase GI side effects, they do not cause serious health complications requiring emergency care or hospitalisation,” the University of Kansas professor said. 'We are not saying they should not be used,' he added. 'But our research clearly shows that there is a need to monitor for gastrointestinal side effects such as paralysis of the stomach, which can impede good quality of life.'

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