The boom was triggered by the rich and beautiful, who want to become a little thinner and thus supposedly even more beautiful: According to the US media, the drug soon became a status symbol in Hollywood – and with the celebrities, it was soon widely discussed in the media.
Although Ozempic requires a prescription, research by US media revealed that getting a prescription is not a major hurdle. In a pinch, there are online health providers who issue prescriptions without a diagnosis, and online shops that sell the active ingredient without a prescription.
Delivery bottlenecks for patients
The demand is now so high that there are always delivery problems – and patients who actually need the drug often have trouble actually getting it.
The fact that extremely thin is back in fashion has also been pointed out again in recent months by fashion trends. There was talk of a return to “heroin chic” – with sunken cheekbones and emaciated bodies.
feeling of hunger curbed
In 2017, the active substance semaglutide was approved in the USA and the EU for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood sugar levels. However, it also has other effects: it increases satiety, reduces hunger and also slows down gastric emptying.
And it is precisely these properties that mean that it is increasingly being used as a weight loss preparation – off-label, of course. The Danish manufacturer Novo Nordisk has now launched a second drug, Wegovy, which is actually approved as a weight loss therapy for severe overweight and obesity. It is not available in Austria, and a prescription from a senior physician is required for Ozempic.
Race of the pharmaceutical companies
Experts speak of a completely new era of weight loss preparations – and that’s big business: The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company has brought the drug Mounjaro onto the market with a similar active ingredient, tirzepatid. Almost every large pharmaceutical company is now trying to join the race for slimming products, and numerous drugs are in different test phases. In addition, attempts are being made to bring the drugs into tablet form without restricting their effectiveness. Currently Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro are injected via pen.
Huge increase in prescriptions
According to New York Magazine’s The Cut, sales of Ozempic are up 42 percent. In December alone, 1.2 million prescriptions for Ozempic were written across the US, a 64 percent increase from the previous December, according to The Cut, citing IQVIA, a health data analytics company.
Komodo Health, a company that tracks health records for 330 million patients, found that many non-diabetic people are also taking the drug. Their number has quadrupled in California alone. It is also striking that this group is significantly younger than the diabetes patients who receive the drug.
Advertising and dirty PR
The manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, emphasized to The Cut that the company “in no way promotes or recommends off-label use”. However: Commercials for Ozempic are ubiquitous in the USA – also and especially on TikTok and Instagram.
The British pharmaceutical association, which recently suspended Novo Nordisk’s membership for two years, also sees unclean practices: The reason for this was the diet courses offered by the company that were not declared as advertising events. In doing so, the company violated the code of conduct because it weakened trust in the pharmaceutical industry.
The British “Observer” had previously reported that the pharmaceutical company had awarded almost 22 million pounds to experts, universities and health associations in recent years – most of whom were then full of praise for the products.
$900 a month
Ozempic is currently primarily aimed at those who can afford it: Even for people with health insurance, the costs of the drug are only covered in rare cases of type 2 diabetes. A pen, which essentially contains a month’s worth of doses, comes in at around $900. Long-term medication is provided for actual patients. If Ozempic is stopped, weight gain will normally start again – without any change in behavior: According to studies, people are back to their original weight after about a year.
body gap between rich and poor
“The rich differentiate themselves in perhaps the most obvious way: by perfecting their bodies,” says the online magazine Unherd. It refers to studies that show that obesity is less common as income increases. “The rich are fit and the poor are fat,” says Unherd very pointedly. And drugs like Ozempic would make those differences even clearer.
Various studies assume that around two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and between 40 and 50 percent are even obese. But those for whom a corresponding drug would actually enable a significant improvement in their state of health will probably never benefit from treatment, speculates Unherd.
Significant side effects
Other media, on the other hand, focus primarily on the health consequences: side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation are reported. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that people with pancreatic and thyroid disorders should not use Ozempic. Thyroid tumors also occurred in animal experiments. The Cut also points out that in the past, diet drugs were repeatedly withdrawn from the market by the authorities.
US tabloid media, on the other hand, have zeroed in on the “Ozempic face”: rapid weight loss also reduces the body fat in the face. Sunken cheeks and skin folds are the result.
The Austrian Society for Eating Disorders offers on their Website an Austria-wide overview of counseling centers and hotlines for those affected by eating disorders and their relatives.
Eating Disorder Warning
But there are also warnings about health consequences if the drug does what it is supposed to do: “We are adding another tool to the possibilities of self-destructing with an eating disorder,” said Kim Dennis from the US Association for Eating Disorders the online magazine Jezebel. It is known from research that dieting is one of the greatest risk factors for developing an eating disorder.
The nature of the effect of Ozempic also thwarts any therapy for eating disorders: “When treating people with eating disorders, a large part of our work focuses on bringing them back into contact with their bodies, sensitizing them to the point where they feel hungry and hungry Perceiving food signals.” Ozempic prevents exactly that.
Farewell to the meal?
Such questions arise not only on an individual level: Because what happens in a society in which the desire for food, i.e. for something that we need to survive, is pathologized, the podcaster Abby Rose Morris, for example, tweeted the question Point. The Cut even titles its article “Life after food” – as if mankind were on the verge of overcoming food with preparations like Ozempic.
Other observers see the weight-loss injection in line with other trends from makeovers to designer babies, leading to physique optimization without the need for physical exertion. What does that mean in the long term for body awareness and the status of the body if it can be manipulated at will?