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Ozempic, Wegovy linked to blindness risk

Patients using diabetes and weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy might face a higher risk of developing a serious eye condition. This condition, called a stroke of the optic nerve or NAION, can lead to blindness, as per new research findings. 

News Arena Network - London - UPDATED: July 5, 2024, 11:38 PM - 4 mins read

Ozempic, Wegovy linked to blindness risk

Ozempic, Wegovy linked to blindness risk

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Patients using diabetes and weight-loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy might face a higher risk of developing a serious eye condition. This condition, called a stroke of the optic nerve or NAION, can lead to blindness, as per new research findings. 

 

The study looked at the active ingredient in these drugs, semaglutide and found that people taking semaglutide were more likely to be diagnosed with NAION than those not taking it. However, scientists caution that this does not mean semaglutide causes NAION.

 

In 2023, around 900 million people were prescribed with Ozempic and Wegovy worldwide. 

 

Dr Joseph Rizzo, the study’s lead author and director of neuro-ophthalmology at Mass Eye and Ear, advised caution. 

 

Ozempic (semaglutide) was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in December 2017.

 

It has been marketed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, helping to control blood sugar levels along with diet and exercise.

 

In India, the only drug available is Novo Nordisk's Rybelsus pill, which was launched in 2022 but is considered less effective than popular injectables. It contains the same ingredients as Wegovy and Ozempic but is in pill form.

 

"This is serious information that doctors should discuss with their patients," Rizzo told reporters while sharing the new findings. He added that patients should consider these findings when deciding whether to take these medications.

 

Novo Nordisk, which makes Ozempic and Wegovy, has responded that their data does not show that semaglutide causes NAION. They also noted that NAION is not listed as a side effect on the drugs’ FDA-approved labels.

 

According to official data quoted by a prominent international magazine, “Novo has a market capitalisation of just under $600 billion — more than the GDP of its home country, Denmark — a long way up from around $375 billion this time last year, around $257 billion in 2022 and $171 billion in 2021.”

 

The disease NAION is a rare condition that affects 2 to 10 out of every 100,000 people. It is supposed to be caused by reduced blood flow to the optic nerve and is the second leading cause of blindness due to optic nerve damage after glaucoma. People with high blood pressure or diabetes are at higher risk for NAION.

 

The study reviewed records of about 17,000 patients over six years, focusing on those with type 2 diabetes or obesity. 

 

Among 710 diabetic patients, 194 were prescribed semaglutide, and 17 of them developed NAION. This is compared to six out of 516 patients on other medications.

 

Similarly, among 979 overweight or obese patients, 20 of the 361 prescribed semaglutide developed NAION, compared to only three of 618 on other medications.

 

Dr. Rizzo pointed out that more research is needed to understand if there is a cause-and-effect relationship.

 

"This study shows an association between semaglutide and NAION, but we don’t know if one causes the other," he said.

 

However, what is confirmed is that people who are taking this magic drug “Semaglutide” present in both Ozempic and Wegovy, are definitely at risk of developing serious health problems, especially eye blindness and several other endocrine diseases, the study revealed.



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