Medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro have dramatically grown in popularity over the last 5 years due to their ability to cause massive weight loss. But these medications are also known for another thing: causing constipation. And this causes people to turn to laxatives.
Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro Rybelsus, Trulicity, Zepbound, Saxenda, and a few others, are all a type of medication called a GLP-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA). This medication mainly reduces blood sugar so it was only prescribed to diabetics once upon a time.
But for the same reasons this medication causes weight loss is the reason it can cause serious health problems, injuries, and occasionally, death.
These medications work by slowing down digestion and delaying food leaving the stomach (gastric emptying). This helps you to feel full for longer but it can also lead to gallbladder issues where bile is produced, stomach paralysis, and intestinal blockage, all of which are very serious.
People who develop one of these three side effects—and a decent portion of people who take the drug without major problems—suffer from constipation.
And this is where laxatives come in.
People who are taking Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, or Trulicity and haven't been able to go to the restroom like normal, usually turn to laxatives for relief.
This article answers important questions and discusses potential health risks associated with laxatives and semaglutide/tirzepatide medications.
What is Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro?
Ozempic is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It works by producing the same hormone in the body that would naturally cause the release of insulin to reduce the production of glucose in the liver. This is an important part of treating diabetes.
Wegovy is the same medication as Ozempic, just a higher dose.
Mounjaro is not exactly the same as Ozempic and Wegovy (semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist and tirzepatide is a GIP/GLP-1 receptor co-agonist) but they are both prescribed for treating type-2 diabetes and are both being widely prescribed for weight loss.
When these drugs are prescribed for weight loss, they are being prescribed as “off-label” which does not mean it’s illegal or anything, it just means that it’s being prescribed for a reason other than it was originally made for; in this case, treating diabetes.
Wegovy and Ozempic are both made by the Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk. Mounjaro is made by the American pharmaceutical corporation Eli Lilly & Company.
The Popularity of Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro
It is important to remember that the demand for these drugs is incredibly high. So high that diabetics who need them cannot get them, pharmaceutical companies are rushing to make more, and new versions of the drug are coming out at the time. The most recent one was Zepbound which was approved by the FDA in November 2023.
These medications are also breaking record after record with their sales and profits.
In the last three months of 2022, doctors and healthcare providers wrote more than 9 million prescriptions for Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and other similar medications that are part of the weight loss craze.
In 2018, the first full year that Ozempic was on the market, Novo Nordisk’s net sales were $17.7 billion. Ozempic made up more than 65% of that total.
According to the same source, in the first six months of 2023, Ozempic’s sales were up 58% and Wegovy’s sales were up 363%.
This growth is almost so large it’s hard to grasp.
This time 5 years ago, Ozempic was being prescribed a few times a month. As of the last count, it's being prescribed $3 Million times a month, and the count was a whole year ago.
Common Side Effects of Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro
Ozempic, Wegovy (semaglutide), and Mounjaro (tirzepatide), like any medication, have the usual side effects and risks, which are listed below.
- Abdominal pain
- Reduced appetite
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Elevated heart rate
Serious Side Effects of Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro
As we mentioned, all medications have some type of common side effects. These are usually things like nausea or headaches.
Most medications also have serious side effects that are usually rare and patients are warned against.
However, Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro’s serious side effects were not on their warning label for a long time and they have caused people to have serious health complications, injuries, and in a few cases, death.
One of the main side effects caused by semaglutide and tirzepatide is gallbladder issues.
Your gallbladder is a small organ near your stomach that is responsible for producing stomach bile which helps you break down your food. It is very important for the entire digestive system.
Now, studies are showing that people who are taking Ozempic have an increased risk of developing gallstones, which occur when the bile in your gallbladder hardens.
Gallstones on their own are not a huge problem but when they get lodged in a duct and prevent bile from being pumped into the stomach, it can cause severe pain and prevent your stomach from digesting food properly.
Gastroparesis (Stomach Paralysis)
Gastroparesis is a disorder that slows or completely stops the movement of food from your stomach through your small intestine, even though there is nothing physically blocking the stomach or intestines.
It's caused by the muscles in your stomach moving very slowly or stopping altogether, preventing your stomach from emptying properly. This can lead to serious pain, malnutrition, and severe stomach issues.
The exact cause of gastroparesis is not known but it is more prevalent in people taking Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro.
Intestinal blockage is similar to gastroparesis in that food is prevented from moving through the intestines but is caused when digesting food and feces stop moving and cause a backup. It is basically a severe form of constipation in which nothing moves at all or very little. Like gastroparesis, it can cause major negative health effects and is found to be more prevalent in people prescribed Ozempic and similar drugs.
If intestinal blockage, is not treated, the blocked part of the intestines can lose blood flow and become gangrenous.
Ileus (Nonmechanical Bowel Obstruction)
Ileus isn't like a clogged pipe in your gut. Instead, it's a condition where your intestinal muscles stop moving properly and can’t push food through your intestines as they should. This is called a nonmechanical bowel obstruction. It is very similar to gastroparesis, however, it is a more common diagnosis when the cause is unknown.
Other Serious Side Effects
- Severe dehydration is caused by too much water being absorbed through the intestines while food and liquids just sit.
- Malnutrition is caused by your stomach and intestines not being able to absorb new nutrients.
- Undigested food hardening in the stomach is caused by food not leaving the stomach as it should and instead sitting and becoming hardened.
Is Constipation a Side Effect of Taking Ozempic?
Yes. Because Ozempic and other semaglutide and tirzepatide medications can cause the stomach to move food through the digestive tract slower, it can easily cause constipation. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that constipation is more common in patients who are taking semaglutide for weight loss.
Are There Any Known Interactions Between Laxatives and Ozempic, Wegovy, or Mounjaro?
No. There have not been any studies that show a negative interaction (contraindication) between semaglutide or tirzepatide and laxatives.
The only known issue that could result from taking the two medications at the same time is absorbing a lower amount of the semaglutide or tirzepatide due to laxatives’ known effect of reducing the absorption rate of medication.
Can I Take Laxatives While on Ozempic or a Similar Drug?
Yes. Just make sure your doctor is aware that you are experiencing constipation while on the medication and be sure to let them know how often you are experiencing constipation and how often you are taking laxatives.
Types of Laxatives to Relieve Severe Constipation Causes by Ozempic
Since we know it is safe to take laxatives while using Ozempic, Wegovy, or Mounjaro, let’s look at the different types of laxatives. All of these are available over-the-counter, meaning you do not need a prescription.
If you need something stronger, you should definitely speak with your doctor since this could be a sign that you are experiencing a more serious side effect from the medication.
- Bulk-forming laxatives pull more water into your stool which causes it to bulk and makes it easier to pass. This is one of the slowest-acting laxatives. Common brands of bulk-forming laxatives include Metamucil, FiberCon, and Citrucel
- Stool softeners help mix fluid into your stool to soften it and make it easier to pass. They usually take between 1-3 days to work with regular dosage during that time. A common brand of stool softeners is Colace.
- Lubricant laxatives physically coat your intestines and stool so that everything can slide through. They take 1-3 days to work and are usually used for occasional, minor constipation. Lubricant laxatives include glycerin suppositories and mineral oil.
- Osmotic laxatives cause the intestine to hold more water which softens your stools and eases the bowel movement. This laxative takes between a few days and 12 hours to work. Common brands of osmotic laxatives include Miralax, Milk of Magnesia, and magnesium citrate.
- Stimulant laxatives cause the bowels to squeeze and contract to move the stools out. This is one of the harshest types of laxatives. It can also cause your body to become dependent on them so you shouldn't use them for more than a few days. They generally take 1-12 hours and can cause severe cramping while the medicine takes effect. Common brands of stimulant laxatives include Ex-Lax, Senokot, castor oil, Dulcolax, and Senokot.
Laxatives should be used after you have tried natural remedies like drinking plenty of water, eating a fiber-rich diet, exercising, and reducing your stress. Some of these are easier said than done, but drinking lots of water really does help and it’s very easy.
Finally, laxatives can also cause dependence, which can make constipation worse. Since Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and similar medications already can cause stomach problems, you don’t want to add another one.
Remember to tell your prescribing physician that you are taking laxatives because of Ozempic or whatever medication you are prescribed. Side effects should always be reported.
What Are The Downsides to Taking Laxatives for Constipation Caused by Ozempic?
As you can see, there are quite a few types of laxatives that can help relieve constipation caused by Ozempic. You just need to be aware of the possible downsides of laxatives. These include:
- Dehydration is a common side effect of laxatives because it can lead to a loss of fluid and possibly worsen constipation.
- Electrolyte imbalance (like changes in sodium, potassium, and magnesium) is part of the dehydration side effect. Electrolytes are vital for muscle and nerve function and cause an irregular heartbeat.
- Dependency can be caused by overusing laxatives which makes the bowels reliant on laxatives to function.
- Gastrointestinal issues, like irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, can be caused by using laxatives too often or by taking too many. This can lead to issues like cramping, bloating, or making your constipation worse.
- Decline in nutrient absorption is usually caused by taking so much laxatives that your body gets rid of everything and can’t hold anything in. This interferes with the body's ability to absorb nutrients from food which can lead to all kinds of problems.
- Rectal Bleeding and severe abdominal pain can be signs of a more serious condition like a bowel obstruction which may be worsened by using laxatives. Get in contact with your doctor right away if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Why Is Ozempic Being Sued?
Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and similar GLP-1 RA drugs have had many lawsuits filed against them which primarily center around two concerns:
Plaintiffs say that Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, failed to adequately warn them about the potential risk of gastroparesis by downplaying or omitting the information from ads, prescribing information, etc.
Another concern that is central to the Ozempic lawsuits is intestinal blockages. Plaintiffs argue that Novo Nordisk should have been more transparent about the possibility of intestinal blockage and provided clear warnings to both patients and doctors.
If you are taking Ozempic and are suffering from any of the associated health issues including stomach paralysis and intestinal blockage, contact the Dolman Law Group today for a free case evaluation.
We will look at the facts of your case and determine if it qualifies for an Ozempic Lawsuit, and if we can, we will help you every step of the way to get you the compensation you need to pay your bills and rebuild your life.
The Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro lawsuits are changing all the time. For the latest information on the cases, check out Ozempic Stomach Paralysis Lawsuit - Updated for 2024.