Weight Loss Drugs Face FDA Scrutiny

    Weight Loss Drugs Face FDA Scrutiny
    Last updated Sep 29, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • Popular weight loss drugs, including Wegovy, Saxenda, and Ozempic, are under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after reports of suicidal risks were reported to the US watchdog.
    • According to a report published by Reuters on Thursday, the FDA has received 265 reports of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking weight loss drugs since 2010.
    • Most weight loss drugs contain GLP-1 receptor agonists, which slow digestion and reduce hunger, but indications of potential unwanted side effects have reportedly prompted the FDA to examine the drugs' safety and consider action to protect patients.
    • This comes after the European Medicines Agency announced in July that it was reviewing "the risk of suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self-harm" posed by several GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs, after it received over 150 reports of self-injury and suicidal thoughts.
    • However, the EU's drug regulator is yet to examine if the drugs caused suicidal thoughts or whether they're linked to other factors, such as patients' underlying conditions.
    • Meanwhile, both the FDA and the drug maker Novo Nordisk claim that neither Ozempic nor Wegovy has shown any increased suicide risk in clinical trials. Though Wegovy carries a warning in the US for professionals to monitor for suicidal thoughts and to discontinue the drug if necessary.


    Establishment-critical narrative

    Millions of people are being recommended and prescribed weight loss medications, but the drugs are not a miracle solution for all. Reports of suicidal thoughts and self-harm among patients taking these medications are extremely worrying, and regulators should investigate such reports and adequately warn people of the risks.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    As clinical trials of weight loss drugs haven't been shown to cause suicidal thoughts, there's a high probability that patients who report having suicidal thoughts are already suffering from mental health issues. US and EU drug regulators are collaborating with drug makers to ensure patient safety and to provide adequate information to healthcare professionals.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the FDA or EMA will approve a drug for the treatment of obesity that causes >15% weight loss by May 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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