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U.K. Investigates Ozempic, Saxenda Over Suicidal Thoughts

The United Kingdom health authorities launched an investigation into a possible link between the use of GLP-1 receptor agonists, like Ozempic, and suicidal thoughts.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is examining whether Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 receptor agonists, diabetes and weight-loss treatments, may cause suicidal and self-harming thoughts, Reuters reports.

Ozempic (semaglutide) is under review by the MHRA, which is usually taken for type 2 diabetes treatment but often used off-label for weight loss, and Saxenda (liraglutide), a medication for weight management.

The investigation was launched after some patients reported that these drugs caused suicidal or self-harming thoughts.

Earlier in July, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported reviewing data on the risk of self-injury and suicidal thoughts with GLP-1 receptor agonists, including Ozempic, Saxenda, and Wegovy (semaglutide), a weight-loss drug. According to the EMA, authorities have retrieved about 150 reports.

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic and Saxenda, tells Reuters that the review was underway and "a response will be provided within the requested timelines."

GLP-1 receptor agonists work by mimicking the effects of the natural hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). The medications stimulate the body to produce more insulin and, as a result, lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

The receptor agonists may have multiple side effects, primarily gastrointestinal, that include decreased appetite, altered taste, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

However, there are reports of more severe adverse reactions; for example, Ozempic is associated with malnutrition and stomach paralysis and the EMA flagged semaglutide in June after studies showed possible links between the weight loss drug and an increased risk of thyroid cancer.

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