Ozempic poisoning is up 1500% while natural weight loss alternatives remain a hidden cure.

According to a report by CNN, U.S. poison control centers are seeing a sharp increase in calls related to the drugs Ozempic and Wegovy—the latest trendy drug choices for weight loss. Ozempic and Wegovy are the brand names for semaglutide, a drug marketed by the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

Originally Ozempic was marketed to treat Type 2 diabetes while Wegovy was marketed for weight loss. Novo Nordisk says the two drugs are not interchangeable; however, since both products are essentially “semaglutide” Ozempic is also widely used “off label” for weight loss.

Semaglutide, under the brand name Ozempic, was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) in 2017 in its diabetes role. The approved drug worked by reducing blood-sugar levels and slowing down the passage of food exiting the stomach—a mechanism that would logically also promote weight loss. So, it is probably not surprising that in June 2021 the FDA also approved semaglutide for a weight loss role—this time under the brand name Wegovy. This was the first time since 2014 that the FDA had approved a drug for weight loss.

Semaglutide comes with a long list of side effects: nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, headache, fatigue, indigestion, dizziness, abdominal distension, belching, hypoglycemia, flatulence, gastroenteritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, pancreatitis, gastroparesis, and bowel obstruction. Perhaps the most worrisome side effect listed is the possibility of suicidal thoughts. 

Moreover, company officials have acknowledged that patients using semaglutide to lose weight can regain their original weight within five years of stopping treatment. In other words, to keep weight off for a lifetime patients will need to be a pharmaceutical customer for a lifetime.

Notwithstanding the substantial risks, semaglutide has proven financially successful. So successful, in fact, that Novo Nordisk is now the most valuable company in the European Union. Profits have soared in the past 10 year, earning unimaginable profits for shareholders and company executives.

According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, semaglutide can be manufactured for about $5, and is sold for as much as $1,350. The actual sale price can vary greatly depending on whether it is an insurance, government or cash purchase; however, it is clearly an extremely profitable product. The study was conducted by researchers from Yale University, King’s College Hospital in London and Doctors Without Borders, and the findings were published in March 2024.

In 2023 Novo Nordisk attained a market value of $570 billion. This is an amount larger than the entire Danish economy—the country in which the company resides. In March 2024 Novo Nordisk reached $604 billion market cap and became 12th most valuable company in the entire world. The success also means there are frequently shortages in the U.S. and UK. This has led to the growth of knock-off versions and online black-market sales of the drug.

At least part of the reason for the success appears to be the free promotion that semaglutide has received from Hollywood stars. According to a report by the UK’s BBC, demand for Ozempic skyrocketed in 2023 “after it hit the headlines for being Hollywood’s secret weight loss drug—nicknamed the ‘skinny jab.’” It received the name skinny jab because users must inject the drug.

Meanwhile, in America, Reuters reported that an “elite” and influential group of prominent doctors and obesity specialists have received nearly $26 million in payments from Novo Nordisk to promote weight-loss drugs in their lectures, treatment guidelines, clinics, and medical societies.

While the stars and their social media followers line up for off label Ozempic, diabetes patients–the people for whom the drug was intended—often find they can’t obtain it due to shortages. An article on Medscape reported that physicians looking to prescribe Ozempic were “struggling to locate the medication for their patients.”

According to CNN, PoisonCenters.org reported that between January and November it responded to nearly 3,000 calls about semaglutide. This is a 15-fold increase compared to the 2019 numbers. According to the tracking data 94% of the callers reported semaglutide as the only substance involved. Only 6% of the callers reported taking semaglutide in conjunction with other drugs.

Sadly, while drugs make headlines, most consumers will never be told that natural alternatives exist for weight loss. They won’t be told drugs often work short-term, but rarely long-term. More importantly, consumers aren’t told that natural weight loss doesn’t have to turn one’s life upside down. Oftentimes simply addressing nutrient deficiencies can provide the impetus for kindling weight loss.  If you’re in need of help and would like to learn how we may be able to assist you, please don’t hesitate to contact our office. Your weight has everything to do with your ability to enjoy “the best performance of your life!”.

God bless,

Sources: CNN.com, Medscape.com, JAMA.