Tags: poison centers | calls | weight loss | diabetes | semaglutide | ozempic | wegovy

Poison Center Calls Swell Due to Weight Loss Drugs

semaglutide injection pen, smartphone

Thursday, 14 December 2023 02:17 PM EST

Poison control centers across the country report a steep increase in the number of people calling about accidental overdoses of the medication semaglutide, prescribed to treat diabetes and weight loss. Some cases were severe enough to require hospitalization for nausea, vomiting and stomach pain, which were resolved with intravenous fluid and medication to calm the nausea.

According to CNN, from January through November, the America’s Poison Centers, an association of 55 poison centers across the country, received nearly 3,000 calls involving semaglutide, 15 times more than in 2019. Kait Brown, clinical managing director of the association, says that the majority of calls involved dosing errors. Some patients doubled the dose and one accidentally injected 20 times the amount and needed to be hospitalized.

While poison control centers usually receive calls about children accidentally ingesting something, the semaglutide calls are from adults between ages 40 and 70, with the majority in the 60-69 range.

Semaglutide was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. It’s sold as Ozempic when prescribed for diabetes and Wegovy when used for weight loss. Side effects from taking the drugs can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. When shortages of the medications occurred in March 2022, qualified pharmacies manufactured compounded or “copycat” versions of the drug.

According to NBC News, Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic and Wegovy, holds the patent on semaglutide, the active ingredient in these medications approved for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and long-term obesity. The pharmaceutical company said in a statement that it doesn’t provide semaglutide to compounding pharmacies, leading some experts to question where these pharmacies are sourcing the drug and whether it is semaglutide at all.

Compounded drugs, even if they contain FDA-approved ingredients, are not FDA approved by themselves, meaning they are not regulated, warns Benjamin Jolley, a pharmacist and owner of Jolley’s Compounding Pharmacy in Salt Lake City. The FDA allows compounding pharmacists to supply medications when commercially produced drugs aren’t available or the dosage isn’t suitable for a patient.

The lack of transparency in what the compounded versions of Ozempic and Wegovy contain may be a safety issue. The FDA warned the public in June against taking compounded versions of the medication, says CNN. While the poison control centers say that the uptick in calls doesn’t pinpoint if the symptoms were the result of the patented version or compounded version of semaglutide, some state poison center directors believe that compounded versions are behind many of the calls.

The name-brand drugs are sold in pre-filled pens, which make overdosing less common. Compounded versions typically come in multidose glass vials, and patients draw their own doses into syringes. In some instances, callers to the poison control centers had accidentally injected 10 times the standard dose of the drug.

The Missouri Poison Center warns people who think they may have taken too much semaglutide to watch for signs of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which can be dangerous.

Other symptoms include dizziness, feeling shaky, nausea and vomiting, seizures, confusion and even passing out. The best thing to do is contact your local poison control center or the national hotline at 800-222-1222 so a specialist can assist you. While there is no antidote for a semaglutide overdose, emergency departments and hospitals can help support patients with fluids and anti-nausea medication. Novo Nordisk has a developed a link to ensure the responsible use of their semaglutide medicines.

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Poison control centers across the country report a steep increase in the number of people calling about accidental overdoses of the medication semaglutide, prescribed to treat diabetes and weight loss. Some cases were severe enough to require hospitalization for nausea,...
poison centers, calls, weight loss, diabetes, semaglutide, ozempic, wegovy
Thursday, 14 December 2023 02:17 PM
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