Rybelsus Side Effects and Risk Factors

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This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by Tort Defenders’ writers and staff and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney.

Rybelsus is the brand name for an oral semaglutide tablet. Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, meaning it mimics the GLP-1 hormone that the body naturally releases in response to eating. 

GLP-1 slows the release of blood sugar and increases insulin production, making it beneficial for people with diabetes. Semaglutide also interacts with the part of the brain that controls appetite, lessening feelings of hunger in users. 

The drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a diabetes treatment, and some physicians use it as an off-label prescription for weight loss. In other words, Rybelsus is not officially approved for weight loss. It is, however, sometimes used as a substitute for Ozempic, which is an injectable form of semaglutide with FDA approval for weight loss. 

FDA approval means Rybelsus is generally safe to use. However, it does come with acute and long-term side effects that can impact some users. In this article, we will take a deeper look at these side effects and the risk factors that may make them more likely.

Side Effects of Rybelsus

A study in the journal Clinical Diabetes showed that Rybelsus is effective in lowering hemoglobin A1C readings (blood sugar readings), with an average reduction of 1.3% below the starting baseline. This result may bring some patients’ A1C levels below the 6.5% threshold that indicates diabetes. 

These results may come with the risk of both short and long-term side effects. Here is a closer look at these potential problems. 

Common Side Effects of Rybelsus

Side effects can occur with any medication. Many of these will not cause a lasting impact on your health, and the benefits of the medication may outweigh the inconvenience or discomfort of the unwanted and potentially long term side effect of Rybelsus. 

Nonetheless, you should be aware of the potential problems and what to do if they arise. Here’s a look at the common side effects that come along with Rybelsus:

  • Gastrointestinal problems are the most common side effect, according to the Rybelsus product website. These include nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain. These problems often occur when starting the medication and last until your body gets used to the medication.
  • Mood changes can also occur. A case report in Frontiers in Psychiatry linked semaglutide with depression in several patients but also cited studies that did not find widespread mood disorders among people who took the medication.
  • Blurred vision can also happen while taking semaglutide. The American Academy of Ophthalmology explains that blood sugar changes can alter the shape of the eye lens, causing blurred vision. However, the effect, which usually occurs in older patients, is usually temporary.      
  • Headaches are another common problem for semaglutide users. This could be a sign of low blood sugar levels. In most cases, headaches are mild and disappear after a short time. 
  • Low blood sugar levels can also cause other side effects. These include dizziness, fatigue, unexplained sweating, or anxiousness. These symptoms can occur if you take another diabetes medicine or if you need to adjust your Rybelsus dosage. 

In general, these side effects disappear on their own or with a dosage change. However, if they continue or do not improve, you should consult your doctor. 

Serious and Long-Term Side Effects of Rybelsus: Do the Side Effects Go Away?

Most common side effects are mild and go away on their own or with minor adjustments. However, some severe side effects, though less common, can have a lasting impact on your health. 

Here’s a look at these serious problems and how they can impact your long-term health: 

  • Kidney failure may occur with long-term use, according to the Rybelsus website. The risk is especially pronounced for people with kidney disease. Common side effects like vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration, worsening existing kidney disease in patients, regardless of whether they have diabetes.
  • Pancreatitis is another uncommon but potentially problematic side effect. The FDA listed pancreatitis as a possible long-term effect when approving Rybelsus. It is characterized by severe abdominal pain that does not go away. This problem is caused by an inflamed pancreas and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Thyroid cancer is another long-term risk. The drug carries a warning based on studies that found an increased risk for cancer in lab rodents and suggests an increased risk for people with a family history of thyroid cancers. 

If you’re a victim of side effects that have a lasting impact on your health, you may be entitled to compensation. Ozempic, an injectable version of semaglutide, also made by Rybelsus producer Novo Nordisk, is the subject of a lawsuit related to potential stomach paralysis.  

Risk Factors for Experiencing Side Effects

As with any medication, several factors can increase your risk of serious side effects when taking Rybelsus. These variables are different for each patient, so it’s important to define them with your doctor. You can do this by going over your medical history, the medications you currently take, and even the disease history of your blood relatives. 

Here are four common risk factors for Rybelsus users:

  • Age: Some side effects are more serious or common in older patients. For instance, the American Academy of Ophthalmology mentions that older people have a higher risk for vision problems with Rybelsus. 
  • Pre-existing conditions: Your body may be able to handle Rybelsus side effects, but the drug could impact areas of your body that are already weakened. For instance, people with existing kidney disease may worsen their condition due to dehydration risks associated with semaglutide. 
  • Medication interactions: Other medications could interact with Rybelsus, causing more severe side effects. For instance, Rybelsus lowers blood sugar. If you take another medication that does the same thing, you could become hypoglycemic and experience symptoms like dizziness.
  • Family health history: People with a genetic risk for certain diseases. For instance, the FDA highlights the increased risk for thyroid tumors in Rybelsus users with a family history of the disease.

You can speak with your physician to gauge your risk factors and run additional tests if needed to check for the early signs of long-term damage. 

Addressing Side Effects and Rybelsus Lawsuit

The first step in addressing side effects is to talk to a doctor. In some cases, changing medications or adjusting dosages is enough to fix the issue. 

After getting medical attention, you can take legal steps to get compensation via a mass tort lawsuit if you experience serious or permanent health problems. Currently, there are lawsuits involving Ozempic and Wegovy, two injectable semaglutide brands owned by the same company that makes Rybelsus. You can contact a lawyer to see if the health damage you suffered qualifies you for an existing class-action lawsuit involving semaglutide products or if you have enough evidence for a stand-alone case. 

If you opt to join a class action lawsuit against Rybelsus, you might wait for the case to go to court, or lawyers could agree to a settlement that pays compensation to all the class action suit’s participants. 

If you take Rybelsus, you need to be aware of these risks and understand your legal rights if the medication causes lasting damage to your health.

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