Originally appeared on E! Online
Trish Webster started taking Ozempic—the trade name of an injectable medication called semaglutide developed to treat type 2 diabetes—after struggling to lose weight through traditional means, her husband Roy Webster told “60 Minutes Australia.” The 56-year-old, who did not have diabetes, saw a TV ad for Ozempic and obtained a prescription from her doctor in 2022 after learning that significant weight loss was one of the drug’s side effects.
“Her daughter was getting married, and she just kept mentioning that dress that she wanted to wear,” Roy recalled. “So, she went into drastic measures.”
Trish was on Ozempic before switching to Saxenda, a liraglutide injectable that helps with chronic weight management, according to Roy.
He said Trish lost 35 pounds in five months, but also experienced severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. As Roy explained, “It was one big nightmare from there.”
The situation took a turn on Jan. 16, when Roy noticed “brown stuff” coming out of Trish’s mouth.
“I realized she wasn’t breathing,” he remembered, “and I started doing CPR.”
Unfortunately, his efforts were to no avail and Trish died that night. Per 60 Minutes Australia, her cause of death was listed as acute gastrointestinal illness on her death certificate.
Roy now believes the injectables his wife was taking contributed to her sudden passing.
“I couldn’t save her,” he tearfully told the outlet. “If I knew that could happen, she wouldn’t have been taking it. I would have make sure she wasn’t going to take it.”
Ozempic has been approved as a type 2 diabetes treatment by Australia’s Department of Health and Aged Care, though the agency notes on its website that the drug is now commonly being prescribed “off-label” by medical practitioners as a form of weight loss.
“It is a regular occurrence in the Australian healthcare system, particularly for uncommon diseases and conditions or underrepresented patient groups,” the department said. “The TGA does not have the power to regulate the clinical decisions of health professionals and is unable to prevent doctors from using their clinical judgement to prescribe Ozempic for other health conditions.”
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E! News has reached out to Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic and Saxenda, for comment but hasn’t heard back. However, a spokesperson for the manufacturer told People that patient safety is “a top priority.”
“We take all reports about adverse events from use of our medicines very seriously. However, we do not comment on individual patient cases,” their statement read. “Ozempic (semaglutide) is a prescription medicine that should be taken under the care of a licensed healthcare provider.”
The rep said the drug is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes to improve blood sugar and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, adding, “Ozempic is not indicated for chronic weight management.”
Their statement continued, “The safety and efficacy profile of Ozempic has been evaluated in clinical studies involving more than patients. The most commonly reported side effects were gastrointestinal, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach (abdominal) pain, and constipation. The known risks associated with use of Ozempic are reflected in the FDA-approved product labeling. We stand behind the safety and efficacy of Ozempic when used as indicated.”