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On December 1, 2023, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion request with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all federally filed Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro lawsuits, alleging gastrointestinal and associated injuries.

All of these products include medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1Ras), which mimic the action of the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in the body. This hormone activates the GLP-1 receptor in the pancreas to stimulate the release of insulin and suppress glucagon, which reduces blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Both Ozempic and Mounjaro are sold as diabetes medications, while Wegovy is FDA approved as a weight-loss medication. However, this has not stopped patients from obtaining Ozempic or Mounjaro and using those products in an “off-label” manner to lose weight.  Plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against manufacturers Novo Nordisk (Ozempic and Wegovy) and Eli Lilly (Mounjaro) claim that these GLP-1 medications caused unexpected serious gastrointestinal side effects, including stomach paralysis.

Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro Connected with Reports of Stomach Paralysis

In July 2023, CNN Health published an investigative report on individuals who took these medications and then suffered severe effects. One of the things that GLP-1 does in the body is slow the passage of food through the stomach. This helps people feel full longer, which is why the drugs can work well for weight loss.

But if the stomach slows down too much, it can cause gastroparesis. This is a condition in which the stomach can no longer move food and waste through properly. Resulting symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, abdominal bloating and pain, lack of appetite, and in severe cases, weight loss and malnutrition.

More of these cases have come to light recently because these drugs have become so popular for weight loss. Newer studies and case studies, too, have indicated reasons for concern. In 2020, researchers noted that this class of drugs can “exacerbate the symptoms of diabetic gastroparesis,” adding that “GLP-1 receptor agonist therapy is not recommended for people who experience symptoms of gastroparesis.”

On October 5, 2023, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the results of a study on patients using GLP-1 agonists. The data showed that the use of these drugs was associated with an increased risk of pancreatitis, bowel obstruction, and gastroparesis.

“Given the wide use of these drugs,” the researchers noted, “these adverse events, although rare, must be considered by patients who are contemplating using the drugs for weight loss because the risk-benefit calculus for this group might differ from that of those who use them for diabetes.”

FDA Warns of Other Stomach Problems

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), too, has received reports of gastroparesis with these medications, some of which showed that the patients did not improve after discontinuing the drugs. In September 2023, the FDA updated the label of Ozempic to acknowledge reports of blocked intestines in some people using the medication. Called “ileus,” the condition is now mentioned on the Wegovy and Mounjaro labels as well.

Ileus is different from gastroparesis, and though people have reported suffering from gastroparesis when taking these drugs, there has been no warning added to the label yet concerning this condition.

Lawsuits Mounting Against Ozempic and Wegovy Manufacturers

On August 2, 2023, a Louisiana woman filed a lawsuit against Novo Nordisk, claiming that she suffered from severe injuries after using Ozempic and Mounjaro. According to her complaint, she took Ozempic for about a year, stopping in July 2023, when she switched to Mounjaro. As a result of taking these drugs, she states that she suffered from severe gastrointestinal injuries that caused her to be hospitalized on several occasions.

So severe were her injuries that she suffered from excessive vomiting that caused her teeth to fall out. She claims that the manufacturer did not provide adequate warnings about these possible side effects, and that they are liable for her injuries.

At the time that the plaintiffs filed a motion with the JPML to consolidate Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro lawsuits, there were 18 actions pending in 11 federal districts. The plaintiffs argued that consolidation was appropriate because the cases involve one or more common questions of fact, and because bringing the cases together for pre-trial proceedings would promote their just and efficient resolution.

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