Semaglutide medications were used by an estimated 43 million people in the United States and have bolstered the global diabetes drug market to about $61.87 billion in 2022. Millions globally use the GLP-1 receptor agonist, Semaglutide, to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity. Its popularity has soared since its introduction in 2012.
Now, these popular medications are under investigation after users reported severe side effects, often requiring hospitalization for their injuries. With potentially millions of victims across the globe and probes launched by the United Kingdom and European Union, what does this mean for litigators and manufacturers?
How They Work
Semaglutides work by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1. It is regularly released from the intestines after a meal to reduce blood glucose levels. GLP-1 rapidly degrades naturally, so semaglutide has been modified to resist this degradation and therefore last longer in the bloodstream, making them once-weekly injections.
The drug was created in 2012 by one of the current defendants, Novo Nordisk, as a longer-lasting and more convenient alternative to liraglutide, a once-daily injection diabetes treatment. While it was originally intended as a type 2 diabetes medication, it has since been expanded to include obese patients after promising clinical trials showed it was an effective weight loss treatment.
Nordisk applied for FDA approval in 2016 under the brand name Ozempic and was granted it in December 2017. Following Ozempic, they produced other medications targeting those living with obesity and type 2 diabetes, each acting as GLP-1 agonists while being administered as an injection or oral supplement.
The Reported Injuries
The injuries linked to semaglutide medications are all related to gastrointestinal complications. Each is severe and requires hospitalization with victims likely facing recurring medical expenses for current and possibly future care.
These alarming injuries linked to semaglutide medications are:
- Bowel Obstruction
- New Suicidal Thoughts/Ideation
- Persistent Vomiting
- Surgical Gallbladder Removal
While semaglutide is the generic drug name, it is sold under and prescribed as several brands, each meant to treat those living with type 2 diabetes or obesity. Even if the name and formula may differ between certain brands, each is classified as a GLP-1 agonist.
These notable brands used by people around the world are:
Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are the primary providers of semaglutide medications worldwide and the defendants at the center of this litigation. Nordisk initially developed semaglutide in 2012 and has since expanded its consumer base with the drugs Ozempic, Wegovy, Rybelsus, and Saxenda. Lilly is the sole maker and provider of Mounjaro.
Both companies are direct competitors with one another and are market leaders within the diabetes medication space. Novo Nordisk was founded in 1923 in Denmark after the discovery of insulin and has since been dedicated to diabetes treatments. The company makes up almost 50% of the global insulin market alone with nearly 90% of its sales coming from diabetes and obesity treatments. The company’s gross profit as of June 30, 2023, was $23.997 billion, an over 20% increase over the previous year’s annual profit of $21.028 billion. In Q2 2023, Novo’s Ozempic generated $3.2 billion in sales, an over $2 billion increase from the last year.
Eli Lilly is the second-largest market leader and has been an established organization since its founding in 1876 by American Civil War veteran and chemist Eli Lilly. It has seen unprecedented success since the creation of Mounjaro with $980 million in sales in Q2 of 2023 and reaching the top market spot with a cap of $420 billion. The company’s stock price has seen similar growth by about 45% due in part to high demand for Mounjaro. While the drug is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes, the company is pushing for approval as a weight loss treatment. If approved, Mounjaro is likely to generate even greater revenue and create further competition with Novo Nordisk as Lilly expands to another audience.
Both of these companies and semaglutide lead the charge in the obesity market and meet the previously unaddressed need for weight loss treatments, overtaking other companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. Through Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, investors predict the global market can reach anywhere between $30 to $50 billion by 2030.
Lawsuits & Investigations
The European Union began investigating Ozempic after Iceland identified three patients who used semaglutide and began thinking about self-harm or suicide. Two weeks later in July 2023, the United Kingdom launched a similar probe into Novo Nordisk for suicidal ideations linked to Saxenda and other GLP-1 drugs.
In August, a 44-year-old Louisiana woman filed a lawsuit against Nordisk and Lilly, claiming she suffered severe injuries because of her semaglutide prescriptions and that the companies allegedly knew about the potential side effects. She was hospitalized several times for stomach issues, including gastrointestinal burning, stomach pain, and the loss of teeth due to persistent vomiting.
How Broughton Partners Can Help You
As further evidence comes to light from the UK and EU probes into semaglutide and victims across the country come forward seeking legal action, settlements are much more likely to occur. The semaglutide litigation is probable to grow into a significant touching stone and cases will need to be secured by attorneys. Are you ready to stand up for the victims and give them a voice? Broughton Partners connects law firms with affected clients, ensuring you have the cases you need to make a difference.”
With our technology-first approach, Broughton Partners is the industry-leading expert in mass tort marketing. Our various marketing channels and 24/7 in-house call center let us deliver fully vetted claimants to partnered law firms with all of the proper paperwork. Within two weeks, the law firm receives its first claimant, and the rest are delivered within 90 days of launching a campaign. This dynamic, streamlined process makes it easier for attorneys to meet with more clients without eating into their workflow and establishes a stronger relationship between claimants and litigators.
Complete our online contact form or call (800) 949-8904 to be part of the Broughton Partners process today.
Dunleavy, Kevin. “Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro Is Primed to Overtake Novo Nordisk’s Popular Diabetes and Obesity Duo: Report.” Fierce Pharma, June 19, 2023. https://www.fiercepharma.com/pharma/lilly-primed-surpass-novo-nordisk-semaglutide-sales-globaldata.
Fick, Maggie. “Exclusive: UK Probes Novo’s Ozempic, Weight-Loss Drug Saxenda over Suicidal, Self-Harming Thoughts.” Reuters, July 26, 2023. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/uk-probing-novos-ozempic-weight-loss-drug-saxenda-over-suicidal-self-harming-2023-07-26/.
Lynch, Jamiel, and Jamie Gumbrecht. “Woman Sues Drug Makers of Ozempic and Mounjaro over Severe Gastrointestinal Issues | CNN Business.” CNN, August 3, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/03/business/ozempic-mounjoro-lawsuit/index.html.
Munger, Lisa. “Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk Face Off in Lucrative Obesity Market.” BioSpace, May 30, 2023. https://www.biospace.com/article/eli-lilly-and-novo-nordisk-face-off-in-lucrative-obesity-market/.
Puckey, Melisa. “Semaglutide.” Drugs.com, August 23, 2023. https://www.drugs.com/semaglutide.html.