How semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, causes stomach paralysis

Michael Bartlett

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on April 10th, 2024

Also known as gastroparesis, stomach paralysis is a serious, often irreversible medical condition that can be the result of using Ozempic, as the diabetes drug works by slowing the emptying of the stomach.

Over the past years, the popularity of GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic has skyrocketed. While they are very effective in treating diabetes and assisting with weight loss, there is a great deal of concern regarding potential adverse effects, including stomach paralysis. In October 2023, the Journal of the American Medical Association examined adverse events associated with GLP-1 receptor agonists prescribed for weight loss, and researchers concluded that using the drugs increases the risk of gastrointestinal adverse effects, such as biliary disease, pancreatitis, bowel obstruction, and stomach paralysis.

"Given the wide use of these drugs, these adverse events, although rare, must be considered by patients thinking about using them for weight loss," said first author Mohit Sodhi, a graduate of the University of British Columbia's experimental medicine program.

The active ingredient in Ozempic is semaglutide. It works by mimicking a natural hormone in the body known as GLP-1, which helps to regulate blood sugar and slows down stomach emptying. This drug helps people with diabetes by lowering blood sugar and by delaying food exiting the stomach, which also helps regulate blood sugar. In rare cases, the stomach can take too long to empty, resulting in stomach paralysis. One such case resulted in a lawsuit that was filed on August 2, 2023, by Jaclyn Bjorklund, a 44-year-old woman from Louisiana who took Ozempic, as well as Mounjaro, another diabetes drug, as prescribed by her doctor. According to her attorneys, she experienced severe injuries, including stomach paralysis, which could be permanent.

Although stomach paralysis can result from various factors, it is a documented side effect of GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic. If food is taking too long to leave the stomach due to gastroparesis, it can harden into masses known as bezoars, according to the National Institutes of Health. These can cause blockages in the intestine and other serious issues. Stomach paralysis, along with more common symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, is something that needs to be kept in mind by both patients and healthcare providers.

The link between semaglutide and stomach paralysis

Stomach paralysis is a condition that impacts the normal functioning of the stomach muscles and nerves. When the digestive system works correctly, the stomach muscles contract and relax to break down food and slowly move it into the small intestine. However, when someone is suffering from gastroparesis, the stomach muscles become weak or get paralyzed, causing food to move slowly through the digestive system or causing it not to move at all. This leads to serious pain and side effects, which can range from uncomfortable to painful or even deadly.

If you took Ozempic or another drug with semaglutide as the active ingredient and experience some of the following symptoms, you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible, as they may indicate stomach paralysis:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • bloating
  • feeling full soon after starting to eat
  • belching
  • pain in the upper abdomen
  • heartburn
  • unexplained weight loss
  • lack of appetite

According to medical professionals, if patients have some indication that they may have poor stomach emptying or other intestinal symptoms, they should not be prescribed Ozempic or other drugs containing semaglutide, as they are more susceptible to developing stomach paralysis. Researchers analyzed the records to find out how many patients developed one of four gastrointestinal conditions and compared that rate to patients using another weight loss drug, bupropion-naltrexone. Compared to bupropion-naltrexone, GLP-1 agonists were associated with:

  • a 3.67 times higher risk of stomach paralysis
  • a 4.22 times higher risk of bowel obstruction
  • a 9.09 times higher risk of pancreatitis

On February 2, 2024, the Ozempic stomach paralysis lawsuit became official, so if you experienced this adverse side effect due to taking the drug as prescribed by your doctor, you might be eligible to file a claim and obtain financial compensation for your suffering. With over 35 years of experience in handling defective drug cases, our attorneys will gladly offer you the legal assistance you need if you intend to take action, regardless of how complex your situation might be.

Quality legal assistance for individuals who experienced stomach paralysis due to using semaglutide-containing drugs

Since it has been confirmed by medical studies that Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus can cause stomach paralysis in some patients, individuals affected by this condition can now take legal action against the responsible manufacturer. Filing a defective drug claim is a very complex and tedious endeavor, which is why our skilled attorneys can provide you with the assistance you need if you are in this unfortunate situation.

The only documents you will have to provide our legal team with to have your case evaluated are proof of you having taken one of these drugs, such as prescriptions, and your medical records with your gastroparesis diagnosis. After a careful assessment, we will determine whether you qualify to file a claim. If you do, our attorneys will do everything in their power to obtain the maximum financial compensation on your behalf.