Ozempic has become almost a pop culture phenomenon. You have people out there suddenly losing weight and everybody says, oh, they’re on Ozempic. Filling in this week for Mike Papantonio, Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins is joined by attorney Cameron Stephenson to lay out the significant problems with the “weight loss” drug.

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*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins: Ozempic has become almost a pop culture phenomenon. You have people out there suddenly losing weight and everybody says, oh, they’re on Ozempic. I’ve got Cameron Stevenson with me right now, a of a great attorney from our firm here. And Cameron, we’re starting to see as per usual with these weight loss drugs, some pretty significant problems with Ozempic. So lay out what we’re starting to see here.

Cameron Stephenson: Farron, first of all, thank you for having me. Everybody needs to realize that these drugs were designed and approved for a very specific patient population. These drugs were designed and approved to help diabetics type 2 diabetics lower their A1C, their blood sugar. But what these manufacturers didn’t tell the FDA is that, hey, we’re gonna get it approved for this patient population, but we’re gonna go after a much larger group of people. We’re not going after just type 2 diabetics. We’re going after anybody who wants to lose 10, 15, 20, 25 pounds. We’re gonna go get Hollywood. We’re gonna go get celebrities. We’re gonna pay them to say, this is how I keep the weight off. This is how I lose weight. And so you’re right, it is a phenomenon. It is a culture shock, the way that this drug is exploding.

And to kind of show you the vastness of this, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, when they announced Q2 earnings a couple of months ago, their stocks were up 20% in 48 hours. What does that tell you? That means that their earnings shattered the Street’s expectations. And if you look into it, the reason that they did is because nobody, nobody knew that these prescriptions were gonna be written in the numbers that they were, except for the companies. And they are making money hand over fist. And what they’re not telling people and what they never told the FDA and what they never told doctors, people’s primary care physicians, is that these drugs can paralyze your stomach. These drugs can actually cause paralysis of your stomach to where you have a blockage to where you have to go to the ER, to where you have to go to the hospital. And time, time after time, after time, we’re seeing these intakes of people saying, I just wanted to lose 20 pounds and now my bowels don’t work.

Farron Cousins: And it’s really scary too, because Ozempic, one of the mechanisms in it, it slows the stomach down. So basically it’s making your body think, okay, well, hey, I’ve still got food. I’m not hungry, I don’t need to eat. And that is essentially how the whole kind of weight loss thing works. You’re just eating less because your stomach’s not processing it. And then you have some people, their stomach really can’t do a slowdown and so it’s just causing nothing. You eat, it sits.

Cameron Stephenson: Right.

Farron Cousins: And the stories that I have read, because this is actually one of the things, surprisingly, the media’s done a little bit of reporting, well, they did a little bit of reporting the one big story. And then it’s kind of where, where’d the Ozempic story go? The people were describing this horrific pain and it was all the same thing. Yeah, I thought I was gonna lose a little bit of weight because that was the thing in the commercial, oh, it’s Ozempic, it’s for your A1C, blah, blah, blah, diabetes, and I lost a little bit of weight. They always do that part because look, man, we know a weight loss drug that works and has no side effects, that’s the holy grail of the pharmaceutical industry.

Cameron Stephenson: One hundred percent.

Farron Cousins: If you do that, you’re set forever.

Cameron Stephenson: Who doesn’t wanna lose weight? How many times have people, everyone, every adult person has thought, when is the science gonna give me a pill to where I don’t have to eat right and I don’t have to exercise? I mean, everybody would want that. And so what you’re seeing with these drugs is that that’s what they’re trying to sell the American public, but they weren’t approved for that initially and the off-label marketing and promotion is rampant in this case. And a doctor cannot go through the risk benefit analysis with their patient of whether or not a patient should be on this drug unless they’re aware of the side effects and what this can cause. And these manufacturers, we see it time and time again in these litigations and I know you’ve seen it and reported on it, Farron, is that in the case studies, in the clinical trials, they were getting these reports. Why didn’t they tell anybody?

Farron Cousins: And it is scary too, because you do have doctors out there and they know, listen, this person’s not a diabetic. They might be pre-diabetic. And why don’t we just put ’em on this? And, hey, you’ve been saying you wanted to lose a little weight. Here’s an idea. So the corporation at the top, they’re the biggest bad guys. But you’ve got some doctors out there that may not have known the side effects, obviously. But this off-label prescribing of it, that’s something that seriously needs a better look across the country.

Cameron Stephenson: I agree. And the more that this story comes out, I would warn any of my friends that are physicians, any of my friends that are primary care physicians, you really need to read about this gastroparesis issue because it’s out there and you know about it. And if you’re still prescribing it off-label, that could be a problem for you. Even though for years the company was marketing it that way to them, and their head was in the sand, you’re not gonna be able to keep your head in the sand forever.

Farron Cousins: Absolutely. And that’s one of the reasons we do this like we do right here. Because obviously there was the, I guess CNN was the one who did the big report on it.

Cameron Stephenson: Right, yeah.

Farron Cousins: And ever since then, it just kind of died off. I’ve spoken to people who have essentially told me like, yeah, I’ve got multiple members of my family that are on Ozempic, none of whom are diabetic. I’ve spoken to people who are pretty well connected in the Hollywood world, and they say, everybody,

Cameron Stephenson: Everybody.

Farron Cousins: It’s everybody. It’s now the go-to, let me take this. I don’t have to worry about it.

Cameron Stephenson: This drug has been out for a while, but I predict, and it’s funny, whenever I was talking to Pap about this, when we were talking about launching this project, I don’t know that I can tell you where we’re gonna be in 12 months, in a year and a half, two years in terms of, is gastroparesis the end story here? Is there another injury? Is there another condition that’s gonna be a part of this litigation? And we just don’t know about it yet.

Farron Cousins: It’s one of those things where when it’s almost too good to be true, it usually is. And look, while I’ve got you, I have to talk about this issue too, because I think this is another one that is obviously, this is more widespread than Ozempic, and that is the PPIs.

Cameron Stephenson: Right.

Farron Cousins: The proton pump inhibitors. If that sounds foreign to you, heartburn medication, over the counter prescription. There was recently, because the Prilosec issue has been out there for a long time, first of all, tell us what was happening with these PPIs.

Cameron Stephenson: So PPIs, like you said, they’re for acid reflux, GERD, just heartburn. You can get ’em both prescription and over the counter. What these drugs were causing is kidney disease, in two forms, chronic and acute. So some people would have their kidney completely shut down and they would have to go to the hospital, get medications. Sometimes they got better, sometimes they didn’t. Chronic over the course of decades, of years to decades using these drugs, the chronic kidney disease can happen where you get CKD 3, gets to 4, gets to 5, and you’re at end stage renal disease, and now you need dialysis for the rest of your life. So this was a drug, much like Ozempic, that, I mea, how many people don’t have heartburn? People are looking for something to help their reflux, to help their heartburn and the efficacy of these drugs, PPIs work, they do their job.

But again, like we see in every case, the manufacturers didn’t tell people that their kidneys could fail on them and that’s something that you have a right to know, to talk about with your doctor before you get on these drugs. And like you said, Farron, I’m very happy to report, and I can’t really get into specifics, but the plaintiff’s executive committee, the plaintiff’s steering committee of which Levin Papantonio Rafferty is a member, just reached a massive settlement with AstraZeneca, and they’re the makers of Nexium and Prilosec. Now one of the manufacturers that we’re still going after is Takeda. AZ is the biggest market share defendant, but Takeda’s not that far behind them. And now our eyes are focused sharply on Takeda, and we’re gonna bring the litigation to them.

Farron Cousins: That is wonderful. And again, I don’t wanna say it’s on the patients, but the patients due to the fact that the doctor may just, you could see studies, doctors spend what a couple of minutes actually talking to their patients? So you have to kind of take that initiative as the patient. And I know it’s unfair. It shouldn’t be on you. But it really is. So no matter what your doctor prescribes, I think a question you should ask, whether it’s something as simple as your heartburn medicine or something as intense as your diabetes medication, ask about the side effects. Don’t just flip through the little pamphlet that comes tucked inside there. You gotta ask every time, right?

Cameron Stephenson: You’ll want to know what’s going in your body. Plain and simple.

Farron Cousins: Absolutely. Cameron Stevenson, wonderful work. I will obviously keep having you back on as this Ozempic thing continues to grow.

Cameron Stephenson: Please do.

Farron Cousins: So thank you so much for joining us.

Cameron Stephenson: I appreciate it, Farron. Thank you.

Farron Cousins: No problem.