Medicine

FDA monitoring popular weight loss drugs for side effects

Users of popular weight loss drugs have reported suicidal ideation, hair loss and aspiration, prompting an FDA investigation.

The injectable drug Ozempic.
David J. Phillip/AP
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The Food and Drug Administration released a report indicating it is investigating several reports of possible side effects involving popular weight loss drugs. The risks include suicidal ideation, hair loss and aspiration (the act of having food or drinks go down the wrong tube). 

The FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System report included popular drugs such as Mounjaro, Ozempic, Trulicity, Victoza and Wegovy. A full list of drugs and their potential side effects is available on the FDA's website. 

The FDA said it is "evaluating the need for regulatory action." Health care professionals, consumers, and manufacturers are able to submit reports to the FDA to consider the adverse effects of drugs. 

The FDA says just because a drug is on the report does not mean that the drug caused the reaction in question.

"While consumers and health care professionals are encouraged to report adverse events, the reaction may have been related to the underlying disease being treated, or caused by some other drug being taken concurrently, or occurred for other reasons. The information in these reports reflects only the reporter's observations and opinions," the FDA said. 

Eli Lilly's new website to help patients access weight-loss medicine
Eli Lilly's new website to help patients access weight-loss medicine

Eli Lilly's new website to help patients access weight-loss medicine

After regulators approved Zepbound to help treat obesity, drugmaker Eli Lilly launched a website making it easier to access the drug.

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These potential risks are in addition to the known side effects that presented themselves in clinical trials. Those risks often include numerous adverse gastrointestinal reactions. Headaches, sore throat and tiredness can also be side effects of these drugs. 

The medications are known as GLP-1 agonists, and many of these drugs were initially prescribed to help manage Type 2 diabetes but have since gained popularity to help patients manage weight. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, these medications help manage blood sugar levels by triggering insulin release from the pancreas. The drugs also help slow digestion, which causes less glucose to enter the bloodstream. The medicine also affects satiety, allowing patients to feel full after eating, the Cleveland Clinic said.