The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has launched a probe into the use of Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 receptor agonists for diabetes and as a weight-loss treatment.

The GLP-1 receptor agonists under review comprise Ozempic (semaglutide), which is indicated for treating type 2 diabetes (T2D), and Saxenda (liraglutide), which is used as a weight-loss treatment, Reuters reported.

The review was triggered after cases of alleged suicidal or self-harming thoughts were reported in some patients who took these GLP-1 receptor agonists.

In July 2023, the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) began investigating the data on the risk of suicidal and self-harming thoughts linked to the use of Ozempic, Saxenda (liraglutide) and Wegovy (semaglutide). 

Wegovy is Novo’s latest obesity treatment and is claimed to have greater effectiveness than Saxenda.

Ozempic has not received approval from the MHRA for use as a weight loss treatment, but it is being used off-label in the UK, the new report noted.

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By GlobalData

Novo Nordisk is said to have received MHRA’s request on its review of alleged suicidal and self-harming thoughts linked to the drugs in late July 2023.

Novo was quoted by the news agency as saying: “The review is ongoing and a response will be provided within the requested timelines.”

The MHRA is also reviewing AstraZeneca‘s Bydureon (exenatide), Sanofi’s lixisenatide and Eli Lilly’s dulaglutide.

AstraZeneca did not respond to a comment request of the news agency while Sanofi and Lilly noted that the companies were aware of the development.

Originally developed to treat T2D, GLP-1 receptor agonists can imitate a gut hormone that can reduce appetite.