- Cases of suicidal thoughts or self-harm have quadrupled, regulators fear
- Medications such as Ozempic or Wegovy have been described as “game changers”
The number of people plagued by thoughts of suicide or self-harm while taking a popular weight-loss jab has quadrupled in the last two months, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The drug, sold as Ozempic or Wegovy, treats diabetes, but in studies it has been shown to be very effective in combating obesity.
In June, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the drug “a game changer” and announced a pilot scheme that would allow GPs to offer the weekly jab to obese patients.
However, in July health authorities announced a review of the drug, which contains the active ingredient semaglutide, among other similar weight-loss drugs, following reports of patients experiencing suicidal thoughts.
The number of people tormented by thoughts of suicide or self-harm while receiving a popular weight-loss vaccine has quadrupled in the last two months, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Drugs like Ozempic or Wegovy contain semaglutide, which regulators fear could have an unexpected side effect.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the review was launched after receiving five reports of semaglutide patients having suicidal or self-destructive thoughts after taking the drug.
It also received 12 reports since 2010 of these side effects in patients taking a similar drug called liraglutide.
Now the MHRA has revealed that the number of reports of patients with suicidal or self-destructive thoughts has soared in just two months to 23. It has also received a further six reports relating to liraglutide.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received 265 reports of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking this type of weight-loss medication since 2010, 36 of which describe a death by suicide or suspected suicide. suicide.
The MHRA did not reveal how many deaths or suspicious deaths there had been in the UK.
Experts say the potential link between taking these medications and suicidal thoughts is likely due to underlying mental health problems that lead many people to become obese.
“This increase in reports of suicidal or self-destructive thoughts is no surprise,” says Professor David Strain, a diabetes expert at the University of Exeter Medical School.
“These medications suppress the desire to eat, which means they are taking away the pleasure that obese patients relied on to stave off their depression. It stands to reason that when you do that, you’ll see previously repressed suicidal thoughts emerge.’
Semaglutide is part of a class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, the first of which was developed a decade ago as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. These medications mimic the hormone GLP. -1 in the intestine that helps with the release of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. But scientists also found that they suppressed appetite, leading to weight loss. In studies, semaglutide consistently showed that obese patients lost about ten percent of their weight and maintained it while continuing to take the medication.
Semaglutide has been offered in the UK to help diabetics since 2019. While NHS spending regulators approved it as a weight loss treatment in March, it has not yet been rolled out for this purpose due to supply issues caused due to the massive commotion around the medication. since its use among celebrities and models became widely known.
Experts are concerned that the increase in patients experiencing suicidal thoughts may be related to the increase in people purchasing medications online without consulting a doctor.
“Semaglutide is really effective, but you can’t completely solve obesity by throwing drugs at it,” says Professor Strain. ‘Patients with obesity need psychological support. Online companies can’t offer that.’
Trials suggest the drug is safe, although side effects such as stomach pains and nausea have often been reported.
A spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, the Danish developer of Wegovy, said its “large clinical trial programs” and monitoring of the drug since its launch “had not demonstrated a causal association between semaglutide and suicidal and self-destructive thoughts.”