A chemical used in the Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic and the weight-management drug Wegovy is not associated with an increased risk for suicidal thoughts, revealed a new study.
The findings about the chemical — known as semaglutide — are particularly significant because this summer the European Medicines Agency (EMA) launched an investigation of its potential dangers.
Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide receptor (GLP1R) chemical that helps regulate blood sugar in type 2 diabetes and reduces appetite.
After examining about 2 million patients with type 2 diabetes or obesity, the researchers at the Case Western Reserve University found no evidence to support the EMA’s concern that semaglutide may cause suicidal ideations.
In fact, the study recently accepted for publication by the journal Nature Medicine found that Ozempic and Wegovy actually reduced the risk for suicidal ideations.
To assess the association between semaglutide and the risk of suicidal ideations, the team began examining the electronic health records of nearly 101 million patients nationally.
They then applied specific inclusion criteria to select 2 million patients further.
The team said that a clinical trial will be necessary to understand the side effects of semaglutide fully.
In the meantime, the group has been able to analyse national data to help patients make educated decisions about the risks of using semaglutide.
In this study, two distinct patient populations were analysed: Those with type 2 diabetes were provided Ozempic, while patients with obesity were prescribed Wegovy.
Patients were tracked for six months to evaluate the occurrence of suicidal ideation as well as any recurrent suicidal thoughts, as recorded in their health records.
The researchers reported that reductions in the risk of suicidal ideation were consistently found across age, ethnicity, and gender.
When compared to non-GLP1R anti-obesity and anti-diabetes drugs, it showed a lower risk for both the first incidence and recurrence of suicidal ideations in patients who were prescribed semaglutide (as Ozempic or Wegovy).
“The exploding popularity of this drug makes it imperative to understand all its potential complications,” said Pamela B. Davis, Research Professor at the varsity.
“It’s important to know that prior suggestions that the drug might trigger suicidal thoughts is not borne out in this very large and diverse population in the US,” Davis added.