Study Warns of Abdominal Paralysis Risks from Popular Weight Loss Drugs, Check Details Here
Study Warns of Abdominal Paralysis Risks from Popular Weight Loss Drugs, Check Details Here

Recent research from the United States has raised serious concerns about the side effects of popular weight loss medications like Wegovy and Ozempic, which are known for their rapid weight loss effects. According to a report by Durgesh Nandan Jha in TOI, these drugs may significantly increase the risk of abdominal paralysis, a condition characterized by delayed stomach emptying.

Understanding Abdominal Paralysis

Abdominal paralysis, or gastroparesis, can lead to unintended weight loss, malnutrition, and various other health complications that may necessitate medical or surgical intervention. The study, though in its early stages and published only in abstract form, has highlighted significant concerns regarding the long-term use of these drugs.

Study Details

Presented at the Digestive Disease Week 2024 conference in Washington, the study analyzed the health records of more than 300,000 individuals with diabetes and obesity. Out of these, 165,000 were prescribed GLP-1 agonists like Wegovy and Ozempic. These medications are designed to slow stomach emptying and stimulate insulin production but have been associated with gastrointestinal issues.

Expert Opinions

Dr. Prateek Sharma, lead researcher and professor of medicine at the University of Kansas, emphasized the importance of understanding these potential side effects. He stated, "These drugs are new, and while their positive effects are well-established, we are still uncovering the full extent of their long-term side effects. People taking them should exercise caution."

Usage in India

Wegovy and Ozempic are not legally available in India, but they are reportedly being sourced through the grey market. Recently, Novo Nordisk introduced 'Rybelsus', a tablet form of semaglutide (the main ingredient in Ozempic), in India. While approved for diabetes management, it is also used off-label for weight loss.

Cost and Accessibility

Dr. Anoop Misra, chairman of Fortis C-Doc, highlighted the high cost of Rybelsus, which can exceed Rs 10,000 per month. He expressed hope for increased accessibility and reduced costs in the future, given the drug's effectiveness in managing blood sugar, reducing weight, and treating chronic kidney disease. However, he emphasized the need for awareness of its potential side effects.

Mechanism and Side Effects

Dr. Randhir Sud, chairman of digestive and hepatobiliary sciences at Medanta hospital, explained that drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic work by slowing stomach movement to reduce appetite. "Users may experience nausea and vomiting initially, but these side effects usually subside," he said. He added that while abdominal paralysis hasn't been reported in India yet, it's still early days for the drug's usage.

Study Findings

Dr. Sharma's study analyzed the healthcare records of over 120 million patients, focusing on those with diabetes and obesity. It found that 32% of GLP-1 users experienced gastrointestinal issues like nausea, GERD, and stomach paralysis. While these users required more gastrointestinal procedures, they did not experience more severe health crises necessitating emergency care or hospitalization.

Dr. Sharma concluded, "We are not saying that these drugs should not be used. However, our research clearly underscores the need for medical monitoring of gastrointestinal side effects, such as abdominal paralysis, which can significantly impact quality of life."

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