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AMA’s Warning over Eye Disease Risk with Weight Loss Drug

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The American Medical Association (AMA) has issued a warning regarding a weight loss drug produced by Novo Nordisk, specifically Wegovy, which is used for Type 2 diabetes. According to a report by the AMA’s journal, patients taking Novo Nordisk’s weight loss drugs like Wegovy or similar drugs for Type 2 diabetes might face a risk of a sight-threatening eye disease. These diabetes drugs, including Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus, all contain the active ingredient semaglutide and belong to the class of drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists.

The AMA Journal’s specialists have reported that the incidence of the eye disease known as Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (NAION) was 8.9% in patients taking semaglutide for Type 2 diabetes, compared to 1.8% in those using non-GLP-1 diabetes medications. For those using semaglutide for weight loss, the incidence was 6.7%, compared to 0.8% in those taking other weight loss drugs. The study, conducted over 36 months, included 710 adults using Type 2 diabetes medications and 979 others using weight loss drugs. NAION occurs due to insufficient blood flow to the optic nerve, causing sudden, painless vision loss. It is the second most common cause of optic nerve-related blindness after glaucoma.

Semaglutide and Increased NAION Risk

Considering other risk factors like high blood pressure and obstructive sleep apnea, semaglutide increased the risk of NAION by four times in those using it for diabetes and seven times in those using it for obesity treatment. Novo Nordisk highlighted several limitations in the study, emphasizing that it was not a randomized controlled trial and that the published data were insufficient to establish a causal link between GLP-1 receptor agonists and NAION.

NAION primarily affects older adults, with an estimated annual incidence of 0.54 per 100,000 people, rising to 2.3 to 10.2 per 100,000 in those over 50. Younger patients have a higher likelihood of recovery. The study indicated that the average age of those using semaglutide for obesity was 46, while for diabetes treatment, it was 57.

Graham McGivern from Queen’s University noted the study’s high quality and precision, underlining the need for more comprehensive research due to the wide range of individuals using semaglutide for diabetes or weight loss. The findings stress the necessity of further studies on the side effects of semaglutide, given its widespread use. The study highlighted a potentially dangerous link between semaglutide and various forms of optic nerve damage, emphasizing the importance of continued research in this area to ensure the safety of patients relying on semaglutide for their treatment.

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Further Researches are Needed on Semaglutide’s Eye Disease Risks

NAION primarily affects older adults, with an estimated annual incidence of 0.54 per 100,000 people, rising to 2.3 to 10.2 per 100,000 in those over 50. Younger patients have a higher likelihood of recovery. The study indicated that the average age of those using semaglutide for obesity was 46, while for diabetes treatment, it was 57. Graham McGivern from Queen’s University noted the study’s high quality and precision, underlining the need for more comprehensive research due to the wide range of individuals using semaglutide for diabetes or weight loss.

The findings stress the necessity of further studies on the side effects of semaglutide, given its widespread use. The study highlighted a potentially dangerous link between semaglutide and various forms of optic nerve damage, emphasizing the importance of continued research in this area to ensure the safety of patients relying on semaglutide for their treatment. Given the wide usage of semaglutide, it’s crucial for the medical community to fully understand its potential risks and to develop guidelines to mitigate any adverse effects. This ongoing research will be vital in informing both doctors and patients, ensuring that the benefits of semaglutide continue to outweigh its risks.

 

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Resource: Iranian Students News Agency, July 05, 2024

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