In a heartbreaking turn of events, a 56-year-old Australian woman, Trish Webster, passed away after embarking on a weight loss journey to fit into her dream dress for her daughter’s impending wedding. The medication she hoped would help her shed pounds ultimately led to her demise, leaving her family in mourning and raising serious concerns about the use of Ozempic, a drug initially intended for individuals with Type 2 diabetes but increasingly employed as a weight loss tool.
Ozempic, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for managing diabetes, has gained popularity as a weight loss remedy across the globe. The medication operates by mimicking a natural hormone called GLP-1, which slows down the passage of food through the stomach and intestines, resulting in prolonged feelings of fullness.
However, when the drug excessively decelerates stomach activity or blocks the intestines, it can lead to severe complications, including intestinal blockage, medically referred to as “ileus.” The FDA had received 18 reports of ileus cases in people taking Ozempic as of late September, casting a shadow on the drug’s safety profile.
Trish Webster, desperate to slim down before her daughter’s big day, turned to Ozempic, alongside the prescription injection Saxenda, managing to lose around 35 pounds within five months, according to local media reports. However, the quick results came at a high cost, as she reportedly suffered from severe illness attributed to these medications.
Tragedy struck on January 16, just a few months before her daughter’s wedding, when Trish Webster’s husband discovered her unconscious with a brown liquid seeping from her mouth. Desperate to save her, he administered CPR, but it was too late. Webster succumbed to what was later identified as acute gastrointestinal illness.
While her death has not been officially linked to Ozempic and Saxenda usage, her husband, Roy Webster, holds these drugs responsible. In an emotional interview with “60 Minutes Australia,” he emphasized, “She shouldn’t be gone, you know. It’s just not worth it, it’s not worth it at all.”
The drug’s manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, responded to the allegations, claiming that reports of ileus surfaced only after the medication’s release, suggesting that the company became aware of the problem post-launch. Novo Nordisk, along with Eli Lilly and Company, the manufacturer of Mounjaro, currently faces lawsuits in the United States over allegations that their popular weight-loss drugs can cause severe gastrointestinal problems, such as gastroparesis or “stomach paralysis,” which can be fatal.
Morgan & Morgan, a prominent law firm, revealed it had received 500 similar inquiries from clients across 45 states regarding injuries allegedly caused by various weight-loss drugs, including Wegovy, Rybelsus, and Saxenda.
Both Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly emphasize that their drugs have undergone extensive clinical development and real-world evidence studies, cumulatively amassing over 9.5 million patient years of exposure. They acknowledge that gastrointestinal events are recognized side effects of the GLP-1 class, to which Ozempic belongs.
In response to mounting concerns, the FDA updated the Ozempic label in September to acknowledge complaints of blocked intestines among users, prompted by a surge in reported cases of gastrointestinal problems. These issues include not only gastroparesis but also peculiar side effects humorously termed “Ozempic finger,” “Ozempic burp,” “Ozempic butt,” and “Ozempic face,” as well as bizarre dreams about celebrities.
Medical experts have cautioned that Ozempic and similar medications have not been available long enough for comprehensive long-term studies, raising concerns about potential unknown side effects, including psychological issues like suicidal tendencies. The rapid adoption of these drugs as a shortcut to weight loss has further fueled fears of misuse and its potentially dire consequences. The tragic loss of Trish Webster serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of vigilance and caution when considering these medications for weight loss.