Weight-loss drugs scrutinized over reports of suicide risk

Weight-loss drugs scrutinized over reports of suicide risk

Yahoo - World·2023-09-28 21:01

STORY: Dawn Heidlebaugh is a 53-year-old realtor in Ohio who took Ozempic to help control her blood sugar.

She told Reuters that after increasing the dose of the medicine, a disturbing pattern emerged. She would take the drug on Sunday night. On Tuesday she would feel lethargic, depressed and at times suicidal.

(Voice of Dawn Heidlebaugh)

“I remember thinking to myself, my family would be so much better off without me because I was so just so depressed, like I was just within myself. I wouldn't even talk.”

Dawn says she hasn’t struggled with depression in her past. So these feelings struck her as unusual. And if she skipped a week of the medicine, she didn’t experience the symptoms.

Our reporting found that Dawn isn’t alone.

We tallied more than 250 reports filed to the FDA describing patients experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors while taking these or similar medicines since 2010.

We took a closer look at many of these reports and often they describe symptoms that came on after starting the drug or increasing the dose and ceased after stopping the medicine.

In interviews, three patients, including Heidlebaugh, told us they became scared after experiencing impulses to kill themselves by crashing their cars.

Reports like these stood out to experts we talked to, who say they warrant more scrutiny.

These drugs are part of an explosive new market for weight loss drugs, capturing the public’s attention and lots of interest on social media.

In July, European and UK health regulators announced they had initiated safety reviews into these drugs and suicidal risk.

In a statement to Reuters, Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, told us the company takes these reports seriously and remains confident in the benefit- risk profile of these products.

Novo’s own safety monitoring has found no causal association between these drugs and thoughts of self-harm.

(Voice of Dawn Heidlebaugh)

“I think that we need to have some sort of warning labels. I think people need to be made aware that this can have it doesn't happen to everybody. Right. Like it only happened, I don't know how many it's happening to, but I know it happened to me.”

The FDA told Reuters that the agency is evaluating such reports and will decide on what action, if any, to take after a thorough review.


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