Australian woman’s weight-loss journey ends in tragedy: Husband links injectable drug to wife's untimely death

Picture: Screenshot image/People magazine

Picture: Screenshot image/People magazine

Published Nov 14, 2023


The journey of weight loss is deeply personal and emotional. So when tragedy strikes, a compassionate approach is essential.

The buzz surrounding Ozempic gained traction with the viral #OzempicWeightLoss hashtag, drawing millions of views on TikTok. Users, including influencers and celebrities, openly discussed their weight loss transformations, with some confirming their use of the drug to manage their weight.

Ozempic, designed to help people with Type 2 diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels, has garnered attention for its role in weight loss. This has led to a surge in off-label use of the medication, raising concerns about its potential risks.

Reports have emerged of an Australian mother whose bid to lose weight before her daughter's wedding ended in tragedy when she turned to the anti-diabetes drug, known for producing dramatic weight loss.

Insulin injectable. Picture: Dennis Klicker/Unsplash

According to a heart-rending account published by “People Magazine”, Trish Webster, a 56-year-old woman without diabetes, started taking Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, after traditional weight loss methods proved unsuccessful.

Sharing his wife's story with “60 Minutes Australia”, her husband Roy Webster revealed that she saw a television advertisement about the drug and obtained a prescription from her doctor in 2022.

"Her daughter was getting married, and she just kept mentioning that dress that she wanted to wear. So, she went into drastic measures,” Roy told “60 Minutes Australia”.

Trish later began taking Saxenda, a liraglutide injectable used for chronic weight management, her husband said.

While she successfully shed about 15kg in five months, she also battled severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea, which Webster described as “one big nightmare”.

The situation took a dire turn on January 16 when her husband observed “brown stuff” coming from her mouth. “I realised she wasn't breathing and I started doing CPR,” he said.

Despite his desperate attempts, his wife died that night. Her death certificate attributed the cause to acute gastrointestinal illness, “60 Minutes Australia” reported.

Expressing his anguish, Roy said: “I couldn't save her. If I knew that could happen, she wouldn't have been taking it. I would have made sure she wasn't going to take it.”

Although Australia's Department of Health and Aged Care has granted approval for the use of Ozempic as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes, the agency acknowledges on its website that the drug is increasingly being prescribed “off-label” for weight loss.

The department said it was common for doctors to prescribe Ozempic for other health conditions, especially in the case of rare diseases or under-represented patient groups.

The country’s Therapeutic Goods Administration cannot regulate doctors' clinical decisions and cannot stop them from using their judgement to prescribe Ozempic for other conditions.

According to a recent “Daily Mail” report, two Americans have reportedly died and three have been hospitalised after taking fake weight-loss injections, official data shows.

The cases were reported between July and September but have not been verified — though they were submitted by the maker of Ozempic and weight-loss drug Wegovy.

Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk, the company that supplies Ozempic, has notified the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Ozempic Medicine Shortage Action Group about limited supply for the remainder of 2023 and 2024.

The high demand for the low-dose version of Ozempic due to increased off-label use has led to this shortage.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, along with clinical and patient groups on the Medicine Shortage Action Group, has advised doctors to consider alternative treatments for new patients and conserve supplies for stabilised patients with no other options, as sufficient quantities of the medicine might not be available for some time.