Overdoses Of Popular Weight Loss Drug Spiking

A diabetes drug called Ozempic that's being used for weight loss is seemingly everywhere these days, but there is a growing concern over it's safety, 1200 WOAI reports

Poison control centers across the country are seeing a spike in calls related to overdoses of the medication. In some cases, that's led to hospitalizations. And, although there are no deaths, there is a worry by some that otherwise healthy people are facing serious bodily harm.

Dr. Shawn Varney, Medical Director of the South Texas Poison Center, fears that some people are taking more than the prescribed amount on purpose with the goal of losing lots of weight.

"There is a real problem with the philosophy that, 'If a little is good, a lot is better!," he tells 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.

It's something he says they see often with over-the-counter medications, given to sick kids. The problem? He says that doubling doses doesn't work. The body can't handle it.

"There is always a point on the curve where you're in the danger territory."

Nationwide, calls to poison centers regarding Ozempic reached nearly 3,000 this year. In Texas, there have been 495 calls for help. That's between 30 and 50 cases a month to the statewide network. Dr. Varney says a couple of the local cases have been serious.

The official name of Ozempic is Semaglutide, and it was approved by the FDA in 2017. Prescriptions took off in 2022 when celebrities started promoting it's use for weight loss. Even Oprah Winfrey now touts it's benefits.

The popularity led to shortages. And that, in turn, has led to a rise in versions made at what are called compounding pharmacies. Those are often different from the patented drug. Even the FDA is out with a safety warning.

Instead of a metered dose, the versions that come from compounding pharmacies require patients to use a vial and a syringe. That's believed to be part of the overdosing problem.

So, when is it time to call for help?

Dr. Varney says, even when the correct dosage is given, there is a warning about side effects. They include including nausea, vomiting and constipation. He worries that some patients will stop eating. That, he says, puts the body in a dangerous place.

If patients can't stop throwing up, then it's time to call for help immediately.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content