Roy Webster said his wife Trish simply wanted to a lose a few kilograms for their daughter's upcoming wedding, but died five months after she started taking the drug — which was designed for the treatment of diabetes, but is now being prescribed around the world for weight loss.
The mother, 56, lost a total 16 kilos from taking Ozempic — which she saw advertised on TV — in collaboration with another weight loss drug, Saxenda, but in January of this year "something went seriously wrong".
Aussie mum Trish Webster dies five months after taking Ozempic
Webster said that while his wife did drop a significant amount of weight, she was also frequently ill.
"I couldn't save her, that's the hard part," Webster told 60 Minutes. "If I knew that could happen, she wouldn't have been taking it."
The Aussie explained that eventually, Trish stopped breathing, and slipped away from him in his arms.
"She had a little bit of brown stuff coming out of her mouth and I realised she wasn't breathing, and started doing CPR," he said. "It was just pouring out and I turned her onto the side because she couldn't breathe."
Her death certificate states the cause was an acute gastrointestinal illness, and while it doesn't draw any direct link to the weight loss medications, Webster believes they contributed to his wife's death and is now urging others to think twice before taking them.
"I never thought you could die from it," he said.
'Growing evidence' to suggest Ozempic causes 'complications'
According to endocrinologist, Dr Kathryn William, there's "growing evidence the active ingredient in drugs like Ozempic can cause digestive complications."
"When we prescribe them, we warn people," she told 60 Minutes. "So if I say to someone, 'yes, it might be that you do vomit once or twice, but if you are having recurrent vomiting, you need to let me know and you need to stop the medication'."
Due to Ozempic's skyrocketing popularity, there's now a global shortage of the drug, and diabetics all over the world are even struggling to access it.
Companies report mega profits off of the drug
Tim Doyle, who runs the single biggest provider of Ozempic in the world, Juniper, told the Channel 9 show his company is turning over $150 million a year thanks to the drug.
He said there's a robust screening process for people who try to buy the drug through his website, but sometimes people "exploit the gaps in the system".
Ina statement to 60 Minutes, the manufacturer of Ozempic, Novo Nordisk, said the recurring stomach complication ileus was only reported after what it calls its "post-marketing setting". They claim they only became aware of the problem after the drug was released and became a pharmaceutical blockbuster.
Two recent deaths in the US have prompted the Food and Drug Administration to change the product information for Ozempic and similar weight loss drugs. It now includes warnings for ileus.
Here in Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is investigating local cases and encouraging people like Webster to report their concerns. Webster says he wants a coronial inquest to examine his wife's death and hopes his warning will save others before it's too late.
"She shouldn't be gone, you know," he said. "It's just not worth it, it's not worth it at all."
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