As the recognition of semaglutide weight-loss drugs continues to develop, so does the speed of doubtless harmful overdoses, specialists are warning.
Reported overdoses of semaglutide merchandise akin to Ozempic and Wegovy greater than doubled between 2022 and 2023, in response to America’s Poison Facilities in Virginia.
“U.S. Poison Facilities have documented 3,316 exposures to merchandise containing semaglutide by way of Dec. 31, 2023, greater than two occasions the variety of instances reported in 2022,” Dr. Kait Brown, medical managing director of America’s Poison Facilities, advised Fox Information Digital through electronic mail.
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“These instances embrace exposures to prescription semaglutide, compounded semaglutide and counterfeit semaglutide,” he stated.
“Most of those instances are related to unintentional therapeutic errors in adults.”
Reported overdoses of semaglutide merchandise like Ozempic and Wegovy greater than doubled between 2022 and 2023, in response to America’s Poison Facilities in Virginia. (iStock)
What’s inflicting the overdoses?
Semaglutide drugs are supposed to be given in a low dose and elevated slowly over a four-week interval, in response to Dr. Seth Kipnis, director of bariatric and robotic surgical procedure at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore College Medical Heart in Neptune, New Jersey.
“If folks leap proper to the excessive dose, they may have extra preliminary detrimental unwanted effects,” he advised Fox Information Digital.
U.S. poison facilities have documented 3,316 exposures to merchandise containing semaglutide by way of Dec. 31, 2023, greater than two occasions the variety of instances reported in 2022.
In some instances, individuals who overdose could also be getting the treatment from a supply aside from a neighborhood physician or taking another person’s prescribed treatment, the physician famous.
Folks with a semaglutide prescription ought to comply with the producer’s and prescribing doctor’s directions, Kipnis suggested.
“The dose is weekly,” he stated. “Whether it is taken day by day, it’s an excessive amount of.”
Compounded variations of those medication allotted in multi-dose vials current a better overdose threat, specialists warned. (iStock)
Dr. Maryann Amirshahi, co-medical director of the Nationwide Capital Poison Heart in Washington, D.C., confirmed that there was a big general enhance in semaglutide overdoses reported to poison facilities nationally.
“As well as, I’ve observed an identical enhance at my particular person middle,” Amirshahi, who can also be professor of emergency drugs on the Georgetown College College of Medication, advised Fox Information Digital.
The physician attributes the rise to a number of elements, mainly the “big enhance” in semaglutide prescribing.
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“Secondarily, it’s accessible in a number of totally different types, which might trigger confusion,” Amirshahi famous.
“Ozempic is a dial-up pen with a number of doses — whereas Wegovy is a single-dose pen.”
One other supply of confusion is that many individuals are utilizing compounded merchandise.
Probably the most generally reported overdose signs of semaglutide treatment use embrace nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, dizziness and diarrhea. (iStock)
“Compounded variations have their very own distinctive dangers relating to a possible overdose, particularly once they’re allotted in multi-dose vials,” famous Alyssa Billingsley, PharmD, Missouri-based director of pharmacy content material at GoodRx.
“These injections are sometimes allotted in vials, so there’s a better alternative for dosing errors because you’re measuring out your particular dose with a syringe,” she warned.
“In some instances, the vial might include as a lot as 10 occasions the quantity of semaglutide as a single-use injection pen.”
Warning indicators and signs
Probably the most generally reported overdose signs embrace nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, dizziness and diarrhea, Brown famous.
“Some folks have reported hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which may be life-threatening,” she stated.
Danish multinational pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk A/S workplace constructing is situated in Fremont, California. Novo Nordisk supplied a press release to Fox Information Digital concerning the reported overdoses. (iStock)
Signs of low blood sugar embrace confusion, tremor, lightheadedness and palpitations, in response to Amirshahi.
“Semaglutide slows abdomen emptying, which might result in nausea, vomiting and stomach ache,” she stated.
In some instances, the abdomen turns into nearly paralyzed, a situation known as gastroparesis, which might result in dehydration, irregular electrolytes and kidney injury, stated Amirshahi.
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One other potential impact of semaglutide overdose is irritation of the pancreas.
“Signs of pancreatitis are very related and might embrace nausea, vomiting, stomach ache and dehydration,” Amirshahi famous.
These indicators and signs may also happen amongst sufferers taking regular doses of the treatment in addition to in overdoses, she added.
Wegovy is an injectable semaglutide prescription weight-loss drugs that has helped folks with weight problems. (Michael Siluk/UCG/Common Photos Group through Getty Photos)
Whereas any drug overdose may be severe, specialists famous that taking an excessive amount of semaglutide isn’t deadly.
“Semaglutide is usually well-tolerated in overdose in comparison with different diabetes drugs,” Amirshahi stated.
“Something is feasible when an FDA-approved drug is taken inappropriately.”
Nevertheless, for individuals who develop gastroparesis or pancreatitis, potential problems can embrace dehydration and kidney injury.
“Whereas low blood sugar is uncommon with semaglutide overdose, if it isn’t detected and handled early, it could result in seizures,” Amirshahi added.
Kipnis famous that by way of antagonistic results, “something is feasible when an FDA-approved drug is taken inappropriately.”
What to do in an overdose occasion
Anybody who’s taking a prescribed semaglutide ought to have a major care doctor or medical supplier to supply shut follow-up assist, particularly within the first a number of weeks because the dose will increase, Kipnis suggested.
Though there isn’t a particular antidote for a semaglutide overdose, the first plan of action is to deal with the stomach signs with nausea and ache drugs, right electrolytes, and provides fluids for dehydration, stated Amirshahi.
In some instances, it might be doable to handle signs at house after consulting with a well being care skilled, however different conditions might require fast medical consideration, specialists stated. (iStock)
“We additionally deal with the low blood sugar by giving glucose or dextrose,” she stated. “The care is actually supportive till the results of the treatment put on off.”
In some instances, it might be doable to handle signs at house after consulting with a well being care skilled, however different conditions might require fast medical consideration, Billingsley famous.
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“For instance, extreme vomiting may end up in severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which may be harmful if left untreated,” she advised Fox Information Digital. “Extreme instances of hypoglycemia can be life-threatening.”
To stop an overdose, Billingsley stated to be sure to really feel snug and assured utilizing the injection pen and deciding on your particular dose.
Folks with a semaglutide prescription ought to comply with the producer’s and prescribing doctor’s directions, a health care provider suggested. (Camerique/ClassicStock/Getty Photos)
“Perceive how usually you ought to be injecting your dose, and think about using alarms, treatment reminder apps, or different instruments to assist preserve you on observe,” she advisable. “Your pharmacist generally is a useful useful resource if any questions come up.”
For emergency help, name Poison Assist at 1.800.222.1222 to talk with a poison knowledgeable or go to PoisonHelp.org for assist and sources.
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When contacted by Fox Information Digital relating to the potential for overdoses, Novo Nordisk, maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, supplied a press release.
“Novo Nordisk is the one firm within the U.S. with FDA-approved merchandise containing semaglutide, recognized beneath the commerce names Wegovy, Ozempic and RYBELSUS, and will solely be prescribed after an in depth session between a well being care supplier and a affected person and will solely be taken beneath the supervision of a well being care supplier,” the corporate stated.
It added, “Novo Nordisk stands behind the security and efficacy of our FDA-approved semaglutide medicines when used as indicated and when taken beneath the care of a licensed well being care skilled.”
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