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Health records indicate no connection between weight-loss drugs and suicidal thoughts

Science and Technology

Health records indicate no connection between weight-loss drugs and suicidal thoughts

Even as drug regulators in the US and Europe look into a possible link, a new report suggests that a highly popular class of obesity and diabetes medications isn't linked to suicidal thoughts.

The glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists, which include Ozempic for diabetes and Wegovy for weight loss, have been linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts. This was the basis for the government-funded study that was launched today.

The latest study, which used more than a million U.S. health records, shows no such concerning correlation and even hypothesizes that the medications may lessen suicidal thoughts. To ascertain whether there is such a benefit, scientists point out that the work has serious limitations and that additional research is required.

GLP-1 agonists are transforming the way that obesity and diabetes are treated. Semaglutide, a generic GLP-1 medication, is marketed under the brands Ozempic and Wegovy. In clinical trials, it helped obese participants lose almost 15% of their body weight.

These medications have adverse effects, like any other therapies; these include nausea and other gastrointestinal problems, as well as infrequent but potentially more severe side effects, including pancreatitis. They also raised concerns last year that they could trigger suicide thoughts. Following about 150 reports of self-harm and suicidal thoughts in patients on GLP-1 medication, the European Medicines Agency declared in July 2023 that it was looking into this possible adverse effect. This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States also revealed that it is looking into the matter.

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