Poison control centers see surge in calls about weight-loss drugs

In the first 11 months of 2023, poison control centers across the U.S. received nearly 3,000 calls involving semaglutide — a more than 15-fold increase since 2019, according to a Dec. 13 report from CNN

"Oftentimes, it's a person who maybe accidentally took a double dose or took the wrong dose," Kait Brown, PharmD, clinical managing director of America's Poison Centers, told the news outlet. 

In some cases, patients were hospitalized due to severe nausea, vomiting and stomach pain, according to the report. Officials at state poison centers believe compounded versions of semaglutide may be behind many of the calls, but reported symptoms do not enable them to say with certainty whether the surge stems from Ozempic and Wegovy, which are approved products, or compounded versions. 

Name-brand drugs are sold in pre-filled pens with some safeguards to keep patients from making mistakes with their dosages. Compounded versions — which are not reviewed by the FDA for safety or effectiveness — typically require patients to draw their own doses from glass vials into syringes.

"This is where we see a lot of errors. They end up drawing too much," Joseph Lambson, PharmD, director of the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center, told the news outlet. 

Earlier this year, the FDA issued an alert warning the public about compounded versions of semaglutide.

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