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Diabetes Weight Loss Drug Lawsuits Continue, MDL Requested

Lawyers representing plaintiffs who experienced side effects from popular weight loss drugs Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar medications are requesting that the cases be centralized in MDL or multidistrict litigation. The attorneys want the cases handled by one federal court in Louisiana, and at least one manufacturer supports the effort. Ozempic and Wegovy manufacturer Novo Nordisk joined the plaintiffs in asking for the cases to be consolidated in one court. However, the pharmaceutical company requested that the MDL be transferred to the Middle District of North Carolina. The diabetes weight loss drugs lawsuits focus on manufacturers failing to warn patients about the risk of gastroparesis, also known as stomach paralysis. In gastroparesis, the stomach muscles are made weaker, which makes it difficult to digest food properly. Side effects include malnutrition, dehydration, and the risk of undigested food staying in the stomach, which can cause serious health complications.

The Popularity of Weight Loss Medications 

Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and other drugs fall into a category called GLP-1 receptor agonists. These medications are typically used to treat type 2 diabetes but have grown in popularity for weight loss. These drugs make someone feel fuller sooner while eating, which results in less food. GLP-1 receptor agonists are effective — research has shown that people taking these medications while making lifestyle changes lose an average of 33.7 pounds, compared to 5.7 pounds lost by people who aren’t taking the drugs. But are the potential side effects worth it?

boxes of Ozempic from Novo Nordisk and Mounjaro from Eli Lilly with injection pen with pharmacy shelves in background

Patients who use weight loss drugs often experience relatively minor side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Many people who take the medications will find the effects manageable. However, the drugs carry the risk of more serious digestive complications. Last September, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) adjusted the Ozempic warning label to include ileus, which occurs when the bowel fails to contract normally and move waste throughout the body. The exact link between GLP-1 drugs and gastroparesis isn’t clear, and some experts have expressed doubt that the medications cause permanent effects. These drugs have also been linked to pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, and gallbladder disease. People taking Ozempic and similar drugs often remain on the medications long-term to maintain their weight loss — potentially increasing the time for side effects to develop. 

The demand for weight loss drugs is high, and it’s only expected to grow. By some estimates, the active ingredient semaglutide could be worth up to $300 billion annually. However, patients excited about a more straightforward way to fight obesity may not realize that the medications can cause serious complications. While gastroparesis can go away over time, some patients will deal with it for their whole lives. Diet modifications and medication can help, but in severe cases, patients may need to be tube-fed.

MDL for Weight Loss Drugs 

Multidistrict litigation is often introduced when multiple lawsuits have the same plaintiffs and similar complaints. All cases are brought before the same judge in one federal court, speeding up the settlement process. Along with allowing cases to be resolved faster, MDL also makes it easier to schedule witnesses and expert testimony because everything is happening in the same place. Test trials, also known as bellwether trials, are often part of MDL. A few cases go to trial, and the results can help direct settlement discussions between the defendants and plaintiffs. 

More than 40 lawsuits have already been filed against Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Mounjaro. That number is expected to increase over the next few months, and we could see hundreds or even thousands of people come forward who have suffered from gastroparesis and similar concerns. If the court consolidates the cases into multidistrict litigation, the same federal court will handle all the lawsuits.

If you take weight loss medication and develop symptoms of gastroparesis, you should contact your doctor immediately to let them know what’s happening. After receiving medical treatment, you may wonder whether you have grounds for legal action. The only way to know how to move forward is by contacting a lawyer experienced with dangerous drug cases who can review your unique situation and advise you on whether you can file a lawsuit.