Ozempic Lawsuit: What You Need To Know (March Update) – Forbes

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Ozempic, a brand name for the drug semaglutide, is one of the newest weight management medications. It has been in the news recently as an effective anti-obesity drug.

However, Ozempic is also much in the news for potentially dangerous side effects such as gallbladder disease and gastroparesis, a weakening of the stomach that can lead to stomach pain and vomiting. As users of this drug become aware of these side effects, some have started to take legal action. This article will detail the background and timeline of the Ozempic lawsuits and provide updates on the cases as they move through the legal system.

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Ozempic Lawsuit Update

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In February, 2024, The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that all current Ozempic lawsuits in federal court be centralized in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. There are already 13 lawsuits (of the 55 known cases) in this district and before U.S. District Judge Gene E. K. Pratter.

This order will create a multidistrict litigation or MDL. Though similar to a class action, MDLs resolve each claim individually while allowing judicial rulings and the discovery process to be streamlined. Class actions, on the other hand, combine all claims into a single case resolved together.


History of Ozempic

Originally, Ozempic was not designed to be an anti-obesity drug. Instead, when semaglutide was developed, it was intended as a diabetes therapy. When Ozempic became available to the public in 2017, it was approved by the FDA for use as a drug to control the effects of diabetes.

Less than a year after Ozempic was released in 2017, though, researchers at the University of Leeds discovered the drug could also be used to treat obesity. Just a few years later, in 2021, the FDA approved Wegovy for long-term weight management in adults who have at least one other weight-related condition.

The drug quickly became a popular option for weight management in the United States and around the world. However, in less than a year, the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) had already received over 10,000 adverse event reports about semaglutide variants.

Despite the large quantity of adverse event reports, semaglutide continued to be a popular weight management option for another two years. It was so popular that the FDA added it to its drug shortages list in 2023.

Around this time, mainstream news outlets started reporting on the alleged side effects of Ozempic. The first lawsuits were filed shortly after that information became public.

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Allegations in Ozempic Lawsuits

Plaintiffs in Ozempic lawsuits have alleged that the drug causes a dangerous condition called gastroparesis. A case report linking this drug and gastroparesis can be found in the National Library of Medicine database.

Gastroparesis is a chronic condition where the nerves and muscles in the stomach wall severely weaken. This weakening makes it more difficult for the stomach to transfer food to the small intestine. Results of gastroparesis include intestinal blockages or obstruction, and it often leads to nausea and diarrhea.

Furthermore, gastroparesis can’t be cured, and it can only be managed medically and surgically. This means that anyone who has developed this condition is potentially facing a lifetime of medical interventions.


Other Alleged Ozempic Side Effects

Currently, lawsuits have been filed concerning the side effects of Ozempic related to the stomach and the muscles of the stomach lining. Plaintiffs allege that Novo Nordisk concealed or downplayed these side effects, but there are other potential side effects that may lead to further legal action.

Possible Connection to Suicidal Ideation

The European Medicines Agency is also currently reviewing data that suggests there may be a link between semaglutide and suicidal ideation. The agency has received at least 150 reports of people suffering suicidal thoughts while taking Ozempic.

In the U.S., Wegovy is required to carry a warning about suicidal behavior. However, this warning is required for all chronic weight loss medication in the United States. Semaglutide might reflect a higher risk than that attributed to other weight management medications. So far, though, no Ozempic lawsuit is based on this allegation.

Association With Gallbladder Disease

In studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found a link between use of drugs like Ozempic, Rybelsus and Wegovy is associated with an increased risk of gallbladder disease. These drugs all act as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) hormones. In a 2022 review of 76 studies on the effects of these GLP-1 RAs, the association with gallbladder diseases was confirmed.

So far, lawsuits have not been filed against Novo Nordisk or the makers of Rybelsus or Wegovy, but patients who used these drugs and were diagnosed with gallbladder disease may file in the future.


Novo Nordisk’s Defense Against Ozempic Lawsuits

Novo Nordisk has released public statements attesting to the safety of its products, including all semaglutide variants. As part of these statements, the company has acknowledged that gastrointestinal side effects can occur with the use of its drug but downplayed their severity.

According to Novo Nordisk, these side effects are mild to moderate and of short duration. Additionally, the manufacturer emphasizes that these effects are listed on the warning label for the drug.

This likely represents the main defense that Novo Nordisk will make against Ozempic lawsuits. The company will probably claim that users were warned of potential side effects before they started to take the drug.


Eligibility to File an Ozempic Lawsuit

Every Ozempic lawsuit to date has been filed by someone who used the drug and developed gastrointestinal problems. Lawyers will typically only take clients who can show that they experienced chronic vomiting or diarrhea for a month or more. That represents a relatively small percentage of the people who have used the drug.

If the only harm you have suffered from taking Ozempic is suicidal ideation, you can try consulting with a lawyer. Unless more data becomes available connecting semaglutide with suicidal thoughts, though, few lawyers are likely to take you as a plaintiff. This type of lawsuit may become viable after the European Medicines Agency has finished analyzing data about such a connection.


Available Damages for Ozempic Lawsuits

Damages in any lawsuit depend on the harm and losses the plaintiff has suffered. However, as an example, Jaclyn Bjorklund is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

These compensatory damages include medical costs resulting from severe gastrointestinal issues. Bjorklund has suffered severe and permanent injuries, including lost teeth and internal damage. Additionally, Bjorklund has been hospitalized multiple times. She is asking for compensation for these past medical costs and any ongoing costs.

Bjorklund also seeks punitive damages for the pain caused by the actions of the Novo Nordisk. Finally, she is seeking compensation for court costs and attorney fees. Similar lawsuits will likely seek the same types of damages and for roughly the same values as this plaintiff is requesting.


The Future of Ozempic Lawsuits

The claims against Ozempic have been combined into an MDL. Though at the time of the order creating the MDL there were 55 lawsuits, that number is likely to increase.

The longer it takes for the cases to complete, though, the more data about potential connections between semaglutide and gastroparesis will become available. Some researchers have recently investigated this link, and several reports have been released in just the past few months.

Currently, at least one lawsuit (filed by Jaclyn Bjorklund) claims that Novo Nordisk was aware of the association between its product and gastroparesis before it released the medication. If Bjorklund’s attorneys can prove that claim in court, attorneys in future Ozempic lawsuits will probably follow suit and make similar claims.

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Counterfeit Ozempic

There is another factor that may affect the outcome of Ozempic lawsuits. In June 2023, Novo Nordisk released a statement that a counterfeit Ozempic pen had been found in the United States.

The product that was in the pen was a different diabetes medication. The person who used the product had an adverse reaction to the product after injecting it.

The existence of counterfeit products may muddy the waters of any lawsuits. Plaintiffs will have to prove that they were using Ozempic and not a counterfeit weight management drug. Also, reports of adverse events may become unreliable if counterfeit products become more prevalent.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the other side effects of using Ozempic?

Ozempic has a long list of side effects. Some of the less serious side effects include:

    1. Fatigue
    2. Dizziness
    3. Hypoglycemia
    4. Flatulence
    5. Headaches
    6. Constipation

Mild nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are also associated with Ozempic. The manufacturer acknowledges that the drug causes these side effects for a short duration. This is why lawyers typically only accept clients who have experienced multiple weeks or more of these symptoms.

In addition to these acknowledged side effects, Ozemic is alleged to cause severe weakening of the stomach and stomach lining, suicidal ideation and gallbladder disease.

Is Mounjaro a variant of Ozempic?

No, Mounjaro is a drug manufactured by Ely Lilly and Company, an American pharmaceutical company. It is the brand name for the chemical tirzepatide. Both Ozempic and Mounjaro are used to treat diabetes and to support weight management. Additionally, both drugs have gastrointestinal side effects.

While at least one plaintiff has sued both Novo Nordisk and Ely Lilly and Company, most lawsuits are directed at Novo Nordisk. There is not as much data connecting Mounjaro with the onset of gastroparesis. The two drugs are dissimilar enough that it is unlikely that any potential class action lawsuits will include both products.

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