Medical experts warn that Wegovy and similar fat loss shots may cause fatal side effects that were overlooked in trials.
The blockbuster drugs work by mimicking the effects of GLP-1, a hormone that slows the movement of food through the intestines — making a person feel fuller for longer.
But researchers in China believe that the drugs may cause a person’s small intestine to swell, putting them at high risk for a potentially fatal blockage in their digestive system.
In experiments with mice, intestinal enlargement occurred at about 20 months of taking GLP-1 drugs. The team notes that clinical trials for Wegovy only lasted 16 months, which means this long-term side effect may be missing.
The researchers also reviewed previous research in humans that appears to suggest that users of these types of medications are up to four times more likely to develop an intestinal blockage.
Wegovy, developed by the Danish company Novo Nordisk, is a weekly injectable medication that results in significant weight loss over the long term (file photo)
Chinese researchers warn that people who take GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy will experience an enlarged intestine, which is less elastic and more prone to blockages.
‘because [this class of drugs] It can cause sustained increases in bowel length and villi rise, the small intestine may become inelastic and fibrous like a flaccid spring, leading to long-term obstruction of the intestine, possibly due to some unexpected side effects, the scientists wrote.
Intestinal obstructions occur when some type of obstruction prevents food and liquids from passing through the intestines.
This can be caused by damage to the digestive system, cancer, or an inflamed and stretched intestine.
It can lead to the death of parts of the intestinal tissue. One of the first signs that someone has a blockage is a loss of appetite and constipation.
If left untreated, a person can suffer from peritonitis, a potentially fatal infection of the abdomen.
Obstruction can happen when the intestines become so large, they lose the ability to adjust their shape – making food have a difficult problem passing through.
As a result, the passage will be closed.
Wegovy, its sibling Ozempic, and other similar weight loss drugs were instant hits in the pharmaceutical industry, becoming so popular that they spent much of last year in short supply. Novo Nordisk, its manufacturer, says supply issues will soon be eliminated.
The Chinese team, whose report was published last month in the journal Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B, highlights the dangers found in previous research. They cited two studies that show a relationship between medications and stomach problems.
One study, published by French researchers at the end of 2020, used data from VigiBase, the World Health Organization’s global ADR tracker.
After monitoring more than 500,000 reports, they found that people who used GLP-1 medications to manage their diabetes were 4.5 times more likely to develop a bowel obstruction.
While Wegovy didn’t become available globally until 2021 — after this study — its sister drug, Ozempic, which uses the same active ingredient, was introduced in 2017.
In a 2022 study, British researchers compared rates of bowel obstruction among 25,617 users of GLP-1 and 67,261 users of another type of diabetes medication.
They found that GLP-1 users had a 3.5-fold increased risk of developing a bowel obstruction.
Both studies were observational and established an association between GLP-1 use and stomach problems – but not that they were directly related.
Intestinal obstruction is a known symptom of diabetes, too, which means the study could find evidence of this symptom on a large scale.
“It’s very difficult to know if the obstruction is a direct result of the medication,” Tulane University obesity medicine specialist Dr. Shauna Levy told DailyMail.com.
Doctors should consider a patient’s history of bowel obstruction before prescribing this medication. This highlights an important point that GLP-1 RA is a drug. They must be prescribed by a healthcare provider who can pre-examine the patient for a history of contraindications to the medication.
She cited a 2022 study conducted by scientists from around the world — including the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and the University of Pennsylvania.
This research followed semaglutide users for two years, and found no increased risk of developing intestinal obstruction in this population.
But the Chinese team cites previous research in mice to make their case.
A 2007 study by Danish researchers found that rodents exposed to the drugs had their small intestines growing 9% in length and 31% in width.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Lotte Simonsen, who led this research, would begin working on obesity research for Novo Nordisk in 2010 — a few years after that study.
She holds the role of “scientific director” at the Wegovy plant, according to her LinkedIn page.
A German study from last year found that GLP-1 drugs increased the length of the intestine by 20 percent and the height of the small intestine by 34 percent.
These studies used exenatide and dapiglutide for their research. While both are GLP-1s, they differ from the semiglutide used in Wegovy.
Dr. Levy said the findings in mice may not have a significant impact on human outcomes.
“Also, animal studies should be seen as hypotheses, not evidence of results in humans,” she explained.
However, Chinese scholars still note these concerns. They refer to the way medications are used for these issues.
Users of drugs such as Wegovy and Ozempic inject the drug once per week.
Dosages start small, at 0.25 mg, before working their way up to a maintenance phase of 2.4 mg per week.
The body does not naturally produce GLP-1 hormones like these. Instead, it produces it when needed to regulate appetite. Naturally, there will never be this level of active hormones in the body at once.
Semgalutide also has a half-life of about seven days, which means that when a person has had their weekly injection, much of last week’s injection is still in the body.
The Chinese team isn’t sure, but they fear it could cause problems for a person’s digestive system.
Scientists say it’s difficult to measure the growth of a person’s gut, which means it’s unlikely to be detected in clinical trials.
The first sign of a stomach problem is constipation, which is a frequent symptom that can be caused by many other health issues.
Wegovy has been the golden goose for Denmark’s Novo Nordisk since it first became available in 2021.
In clinical trials, obese people who used the drug along with a fitness plan dropped 15 percent on their body weight over the course of 68 weeks—far more than other weight-loss drugs.
The drug, a modified version of the diabetes drug Ozempic, was so popular that its stock was nearly wiped out in the second half of 2022.
It comes at a high price, too, costing users over $1,000 per month if their insurance doesn’t pay for it.
However, concerns about its use are growing. Some fear that doctors are now turning to medication to fix America’s growing obesity crisis – rather than normal diet and exercise.
Another study also found that users of the drug would regain all of their lost weight by just dropping the weekly doses.
Novo Nordisk did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
The drug has been popular among Hollywood’s biggest stars. Actress Chelsea Handler admitted to using the drug – albeit unintentionally – to lose weight earlier this year.
Reality TV icon Kim Kardashin reportedly used it to wear a vintage Marilyn Monroe dress at the 2022 Met Gala.
Billionaire tech tycoon Elon Musk admitted to using Wegovy for weight loss on Twitter last year.
Source: | This article originally belonged to Dailymail.co.uk