Jan 11, 2024 - Health

FDA finds no immediate link between weight-loss drugs and suicidal thoughts

Illustrated collage of an Ozempic injection pens in front of a pensive woman with various rectangles surrounding them

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A preliminary Food and Drug Administration review found no evidence linking a class of blockbuster obesity drugs to suicidal thoughts or actions, the agency said on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the second such finding from U.S. health officials in a week, after a study of more than 240,000 patients' health records found people taking diabetes and weight-loss drugs including Wegovy and Ozempic had a lower risk of suicidal thoughts than people taking other drugs for those conditions.

Driving the news: The FDA said a review of reports logged in its adverse event reporting system didn't demonstrate a clear relationship between suicidal thoughts and use of the drugs, known as GLP-1 agonists.

  • Regulators are continuing to look into the issue, because they can't definitively rule out that a small risk may exist.
  • The FDA cautioned that patients should not stop taking GLP-1 drugs without first consulting health care professionals, since stopping the drugs may worsen their condition.

Go deeper: Demand for the drugs has surged, even though health experts caution there's insufficient data about their long-term effects and how they work in certain populations.

  • The drugs, originally approved for diabetes, have become popular among people who just want to lose weight.
  • Novo Nordisk manufactures Wegovy and Ozempic, while Eli Lilly makes two other popular treatments, Mounjaro and Zepbound.
  • GLP-1 labels already list the risk of suicidal thoughts.

The FDA said it will next review postmarketing data in its Sentinel system, including health insurance claims and patient health records.

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