Popular Drug Being Used for Weight Loss Can Cause ‘Serious Side Effects’: Health Canada

A drug that is growing in popularity due its use for weight loss purposes can cause significant side effects including kidney failure, according to experts. Ozempic, also sold under the brand name Wegovy, is actually a prescription type 2 diabetes treatment. However, the drug’s weight loss effect has boosted its popularity, sparking concern in the health industry. Health Canada, which is responsible for Canada’s national health policy, issued a warning this month that the use of Ozempic for weight loss “is not an approved indication” and that doing so can cause “serious side effects” including pancreatitis, severely low blood sugar levels, gallbladder issues, severe allergic reactions, thyroid tumors, and kidney problems, including kidney failure. In a May 31 update, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that even though Wegovy injections are approved for adults and children aged 12 and older to help deal with obesity issues, the medication is “only available with a prescription.” There can also be psychiatric consequences from using Ozempic. An April 18 report from The Wall Street Journal states that many who use Ozempic and similar medications are experiencing bizarre dreams. A spokesperson from Novo Nordisk, which manufactures Ozempic and Wegovy, admitted to the media outlet that the company had received reports of users having abnormal dreams but insisted that it did not have enough information to link the phenomenon to the medication. Altering Relationship With Food There is also a possibility that the drug can change people’s relationship with food. In a June 12 interview with Wired, Professor Jens Juul Holst, a scientist whose work led to the development of drugs like Ozempic, warned that people who use the medication can lose their appetite as well as “the pleasure of eating.” “The craving for food for some people is taken away when they take GLP-1 drugs,” like Ozempic, he said. Ozempic works by mimicking the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) protein in the body. When ingested, the drug activates GLP-1 receptors and raises insulin to manage blood sugar. At the same time, feelings of hunger are artificially minimized. A family enjoys Thanksgiving turkey, in Stamford Conn., on Nov. 24, 2016. (John Moore/Getty Images) “So, you don’t eat through GLP-1 therapy because you’ve lost interest in food. That may eventually be a problem, that once you’ve been on this for a year or two, life is so miserably boring that you can’t stand it any longer and you have to go back to your old life.” In an interview with Healthline, Dr. Daniel Maselli, an obesity medicine specialist, explained that semaglutide, another name for Ozempic, has been proven to be a safe and effective medication for weight loss. However, as with all medications, it will affect people differently and the drug’s effects will vary along a spectrum, he said. “Semaglutide is no exception to this. At one extreme, we have very minimal effect on appetite at all, and on the other extreme, we have patients who have such an over-regulated appetite that they can lose both drive to eat and pleasure from eating significantly.” Weight Loss and Dangers A March 2021 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that using Ozempic can result in weight loss. It tested the drug with 1,961 adults who had a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. The study concluded that 2.4 mg of semaglutide once weekly together with lifestyle intervention “was associated with sustained, clinically relevant reduction in body weight” among overweight and obese participants. However, negative effects of such weight loss have also been identified. An April 23 report from The New York Times cited an example of a New Jersey woman who became malnourished after being on Ozempic. Moreover, the weight loss from taking Ozempic might not be long-lasting. On its website, Health Canada cited a 2022 study which found that non-diabetic people who took semaglutide ended up gaining much of their weight back within a year of stopping the medication.

Popular Drug Being Used for Weight Loss Can Cause ‘Serious Side Effects’: Health Canada

A drug that is growing in popularity due its use for weight loss purposes can cause significant side effects including kidney failure, according to experts.

Ozempic, also sold under the brand name Wegovy, is actually a prescription type 2 diabetes treatment. However, the drug’s weight loss effect has boosted its popularity, sparking concern in the health industry.

Health Canada, which is responsible for Canada’s national health policy, issued a warning this month that the use of Ozempic for weight loss “is not an approved indication” and that doing so can cause “serious side effects” including pancreatitis, severely low blood sugar levels, gallbladder issues, severe allergic reactions, thyroid tumors, and kidney problems, including kidney failure.

In a May 31 update, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that even though Wegovy injections are approved for adults and children aged 12 and older to help deal with obesity issues, the medication is “only available with a prescription.”

There can also be psychiatric consequences from using Ozempic. An April 18 report from The Wall Street Journal states that many who use Ozempic and similar medications are experiencing bizarre dreams.

A spokesperson from Novo Nordisk, which manufactures Ozempic and Wegovy, admitted to the media outlet that the company had received reports of users having abnormal dreams but insisted that it did not have enough information to link the phenomenon to the medication.

Altering Relationship With Food

There is also a possibility that the drug can change people’s relationship with food. In a June 12 interview with Wired, Professor Jens Juul Holst, a scientist whose work led to the development of drugs like Ozempic, warned that people who use the medication can lose their appetite as well as “the pleasure of eating.”

“The craving for food for some people is taken away when they take GLP-1 drugs,” like Ozempic, he said. Ozempic works by mimicking the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) protein in the body. When ingested, the drug activates GLP-1 receptors and raises insulin to manage blood sugar. At the same time, feelings of hunger are artificially minimized.

turkey-roast-thanksgiving-meal-safety-tips-900x506
A family enjoys Thanksgiving turkey, in Stamford Conn., on Nov. 24, 2016. (John Moore/Getty Images)

“So, you don’t eat through GLP-1 therapy because you’ve lost interest in food. That may eventually be a problem, that once you’ve been on this for a year or two, life is so miserably boring that you can’t stand it any longer and you have to go back to your old life.”

In an interview with Healthline, Dr. Daniel Maselli, an obesity medicine specialist, explained that semaglutide, another name for Ozempic, has been proven to be a safe and effective medication for weight loss.

However, as with all medications, it will affect people differently and the drug’s effects will vary along a spectrum, he said.

“Semaglutide is no exception to this. At one extreme, we have very minimal effect on appetite at all, and on the other extreme, we have patients who have such an over-regulated appetite that they can lose both drive to eat and pleasure from eating significantly.”

Weight Loss and Dangers

A March 2021 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that using Ozempic can result in weight loss. It tested the drug with 1,961 adults who had a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

The study concluded that 2.4 mg of semaglutide once weekly together with lifestyle intervention “was associated with sustained, clinically relevant reduction in body weight” among overweight and obese participants.

However, negative effects of such weight loss have also been identified. An April 23 report from The New York Times cited an example of a New Jersey woman who became malnourished after being on Ozempic.

Moreover, the weight loss from taking Ozempic might not be long-lasting. On its website, Health Canada cited a 2022 study which found that non-diabetic people who took semaglutide ended up gaining much of their weight back within a year of stopping the medication.