GLP-1 Drugs Can Increase Risk of Serious Gastrointestinal Side Effects

GLP-1 drugs and gastrointestinal side effects
Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs), such as Ozempic and Wegovy, are a class of drugs that are used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity. While they are generally safe and effective, they can be associated with gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, some of which can be serious.

A new study, published in the journal JAMA, has found that patients taking GLP-1 RAs for obesity have an increased risk of pancreatitis, intestinal obstruction (ileus), and gastroparesis. The risk of these complications was significantly higher than in patients taking a non-GLP-1 drug for weight loss.

While the risks are still relatively low, the researchers say that it is important for patients to be aware of the potential side effects of GLP-1 RAs, especially if they are taking them for obesity. They also recommend that patients follow up with their doctor regularly to monitor for any side effects.

The FDA is also aware of the potential for serious GI side effects with GLP-1 RAs. In July 2023, the FDA updated the labeling for Ozempic to include a warning about intestinal blockage (ileus). Two other GLP-1 drugs, Mounjaro and Wegovy, already include that warning.

If you are taking a GLP-1 RA, it is important to be aware of the potential for serious GI side effects. If you experience any of the following symptoms, please contact your doctor immediately:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the abdomen

Your doctor can help you to determine if your symptoms are due to the GLP-1 RA and recommend the best course of treatment.