The Legal Examiner Affiliate Network The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner search instagram avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner The Legal Examiner

What Is Stomach Paralysis?

The number of people using diabetes weight loss drugs, prescriptions containing semaglutide, dulaglutide, liraglutide, or tirzepatide as a main ingredient, to lose weight has significantly increased in recent years. 

Unfortunately, some users have found that weight loss has come with a price – serious stomach and digestive issues including gastroparesis, also known as stomach paralysis.

man holding his stomach with gastroparesis or stomach paralysis

Five years ago, about 90 percent of those using these medications, with brand names like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, were being treated strictly for type 2 diabetes. Now, almost 50 percent of those using the medications are taking them not for diabetes but to shed pounds.  

However, users who have suffered gastroparesis from the medications are filing diabetes weight loss drug lawsuits against the drugmakers, including Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, alleging they failed to warn patients and their physicians about the risks of stomach paralysis. 

The first weight loss drug lawsuit was filed in August 2023 by a diabetic woman who was hospitalized for intense vomiting, stomach pain, and gastrointestinal burning after using Ozempic and Mounjaro. Dozens of other victims soon followed her lead. In February, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) approved a request to consolidate all the diabetes weight loss drug lawsuits, directing them to the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Symptoms of Stomach Paralysis

With healthy digestion, a person’s stomach muscles work by breaking the food down into particles that can be pushed through the small intestine. However, in rare cases, a person suffers from serious digestion and stomach problems known as gastroparesis or stomach paralysis, a condition that affects the stomach nerves and muscles and causes “delayed gastric emptying.” When this happens, food stops moving through the digestive tract and stays in the stomach longer than it should. 

When digestion is slowed, problems can occur. Along with allowing bacteria to develop, it can cause the food to harden which could lead to painful blockage. 

Symptoms of gastroparesis include a feeling of fullness, abdominal bloating or discomfort, nausea, and vomiting. 

Although gastroparesis is a rare condition with only about 50 people out of every 100,000 contracting it, certain individuals could become more susceptible to it.

Are There Treatments for Stomach Paralysis?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for gastroparesis (stomach paralysis). It is a chronic condition, and it has the potential to get worse over time. Treatment typically starts with making changes to a patient’s diet, and doctors often prescribe medication that supports stomach muscles and a patient’s digestion..

Some of the medications doctors can prescribe include:

  • Metoclopramide, erythromycin, and domperidone are used to relieve nausea and to increase the tightening, or contracting, of the stomach muscles. Domperidone can only be used through a special FDA program.
  • Antiemetics help with a patient’s nausea and vomiting are are available through prescription and over-the-counter. Prescription antiemetics include ondansetron, prochlorperazine, and promethazine. Over-the-counter antiemetics include bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) and diphenhydramine.

There are also ways patients can lessen the symptoms of gastroparesis through lifestyle changes and daily habits. Those suffering from stomach paralysis should try to stay hydrated, avoid carbonated beverages and alcohol, and make sure to get physical activity after each meal. They should also have a diet of soft foods that are easier for their stomach to digest and foods low in fat and fiber. Instead of eating three meals, you should eat several smaller meals throughout the day. It is also important to take small bites and chew food completely before swallowing. 

Type 2 Diabetes Medications and Stomach Paralysis

The type 2 diabetes medications used for weight loss are classified as GLP-1 receptor agonists and are made with ingredients that make the patient feel full, sooner than they normally would.

In Ozempic and Wegovy, made by Novo Nordisk, the ingredient is semaglutide; in Saxenda, also made by Novo Nordisk, the main ingredient is liraglutide; and in Mounjaro, manufactured by Eli Lilly, the main ingredient is tirzepatide. 

For diabetics, these drugs are beneficial for increasing insulin sensitivity and are used in combination with other treatments to lower blood sugar. For those trying to lose weight, the drugs mimic hormones within the small intestine, activating the release of insulin which slows down the movement of food causing the user to feel full. This gives the user a greater chance to eat less and lose weight.

Certain individuals have been known to be more susceptible to gastroparesis. Along with diabetics, those who doctors have recognized as more likely to get gastroparesis include those who have had surgery on their esophagus or have damaged their vagus nerve (which controls the stomach muscles), and patients who have received radiation on the chest or stomach area.

In October, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) points to another group of people who may be susceptible to the condition – those using GLP-1 drugs for weight loss.

Researchers, who looked at the gastrointestinal effects the drugs had on non-diabetic patients who were determined obese, used a comparison of the GLP-1 drugs to a different type of weight loss drug. Among the results, the data showed that gastroparesis occurred at a rate of 10 cases for every 1,000 users of semaglutide and seven for every 1,000 users who took liraglutide. 

At the same time, the drugmakers did not include a warning concerning gastroparesis on the packaging of their products.

Weight Loss Drugs Lawsuits

The weight loss drugs multidistrict litigation is designed to make the legal process more efficient and those injured by the drugs should see a speedier resolution for their pain and suffering.

As the number of people using these diabetes weight loss drugs continues to grow, drugmakers continue to earn more and more profit from what they are manufacturing and selling. However, first and foremost their drugs must be safe for those who purchase and use them, and any information concerning safety must be shared with both the patients and doctors on the product’s packaging.

Manufacturers who withhold information, including warnings of possible side effects like gastroparesis and other stomach conditions can jeopardize a patient’s safety and must be held accountable. Hiring a lawyer experienced in product liability is the best way to make that happen, and ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries.