Ozempic-related ER visits spike; experts warn of side effects

  • The diabetes drug has exploded in popularity for its use in weight loss
  • One surgeon says the drug is effective when used under a doctor's care
  • A fitness expert says the drug has merit but a lifestyle shift is needed

(NewsNation) — Hospitals are seeing a spike in ER visits related to Ozempic and its side effects. Experts say the diabetes drug has exploded in popularity with more and more people using it for weight loss.

“With a lot of the ER visits, and there are a lot of them, that typically people who have gotten some telemedicine video for Ozempic and haven’t gotten much guidance about how to use it, what to look out for that,” said weight loss surgeon Dr. Terry Simpson.

Simpson joined “NewsNation Now” to provide some insight into how Ozempic is being used, saying patients need to understand the risks.

“As long as two things happen, the patients understand what the risks are, understand when they need to go to the doctor and understand how they should be using the drug, as in, you shouldn’t be taking this drug and still using your same diet and trying to stuff yourself until the drug makes you stop, people typically do well,” Simpson said.

Some of the most commonly reported side effects are nausea, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea and vomiting. Along with these, patients can also experience more serious side effects including pancreatitis, kidney failure and gallstones.

Due to its proven effectiveness in weight loss, Ozempic has gained popularity among celebrities wanting a certain figure. Simpson says this is causing people to use the drug too “cavalierly.”

“It’s not a benign drug. And it’s a drug meant to be used for a lifetime that has serious side effects,” Simpson said. “If you’re not counseled on how to use it properly, those can be made worse.”

One health and fitness expert says though the drug has merit, a more fundamental change is needed.

“We have to remember that 75% of the adult American population is either overweight or obese. Over 50% are either a diabetic or they’re insulin resistant. People are looking for real answer answers. Now a medication is good, but I think it also comes back down and we need to shift lifestyle,” said Mark MacDonald.


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