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NYC Council rep proposes law to warn about Ozempic’s side effects

nyc-council-rep-proposes-law-to-warn-about-ozempic’s-side-effects
NYC Council rep proposes law to warn about Ozempic’s side effects

Forget budget woes — the City Council is worrying about another kind of belt tightening.

A new bill now being weighed by city legislators would require health authorities to warn New Yorkers about the dangers of taking Ozempic and other diabetes drugs for weight loss.

The medications have become a hot diet fad, with celebs like Tracy Morgan, Oprah Winfrey, Amy Schumer and Elon Musk reportedly taking it to shed the pounds.

Boy George even called Ozempic a “wonder drug.”

But Councilwoman Julie Menin (D-Manhattan) is finding the medication hard to swallow — and is sponsoring legislation that would require the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to publish materials about the “negative consequences” of the drug for “off-label use for weight loss.”

Those consequences include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, fatigue and hypoglycemia. 

Menin also said it’s important to not deplete the supply of the drugs for dieters, when it is needed desperately for patients with life-threatening diabetes, rather than weight loss.

More than 1 million of 8.5 million city residents are stricken with diabetes, exceeding one of every ten residents.

Data reveal that diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the Big Apple.

“We need to ensure that patients suffering from diabetes do not face difficulties accessing this drug due to the increased off-label use of these products solely for weight loss,” Menin told The Post.

“Moreover, there are serious health consequences associated with these medications and it’s important that the Health Department disseminate information so that individuals are well informed about these risks.”

Ozempic Insulin injection pen
A bill introduced in the City Council would require health authorities to warn New Yorkers about the side effects of Ozempic and other drugs used for weight loss. Natalia – stock.adobe.com

Ozempic is the most prescribed Type 2 diabetes and obesity medication in the country.

The drug prescription volume surged from 1.5 million in 2019 to 9 million by the end of 2022 as it became more popular for weight loss.

About 4 million people have taken Ozempic — and the similar drugs Wegovy and Mounjaro — for weight loss, according to data compiled by Mennins’ office.

The legislation doesn’t actually name the drugs that will fall under the law, but Menin said she was targeting Ozempic and similar drugs.

Remarks by Council Member Julie Menin chair of committee on Small Business Services.
Councilwoman Julie Menin is finding the medication hard to swallow and is sponsoring legislation that would require the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to publish materials about the “negative consequences” of the drug. Paul Martinka

The US Food and Drug Administration has not approved Ozempic for weight loss, but doctors have been known to approve it for weight loss anyway, a practice called “off label” prescription.

Wegovy and Mounjaro has been given such approval.

The bill will be reviewed first by the Council Health Committee, whose chairwoman, Queens Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, has signed on as a co-sponsor.

Novo Nordisk, the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical firm that produces Ozempic and Wegovy, had no immediate comment on the legislation.

But the firm noted Ozempic is FDA-approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, to improve blood sugar, and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death.

“Ozempic is not approved for chronic weight management,” the firm said in a fact sheet.

“We ask that healthcare professionals prescribe our medicines consistent with their FDA-approved indications.”

It also manufactures Wegovy, which is FDA-approved for “chronic weight management ” for people who are obese or overweight.

The firm said it is ramping up the supply and distribution of Wegovy.

“it’s important to be aware that overall demand will continue to exceed supply which means that some patients may still have difficulty filling Wegovy prescriptions,” the fact sheet said.

Mayor Adams’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the bill.

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