Aug 14, 2023

At the nexus of obesity and diabetes comes a new genre of blockbuster weight loss medications, which the media characterizes as the “Hollywood diet drugs.” While these medications are designed for people with Type 2 diabetes, they quickly reached stardom when socialites and celebrities began using them to help lose weight despite some alarming potential side effects.

These red-hot commodities have entered mainstream USA, as people throughout the country aim to arm themselves with a new weapon for losing unwanted pounds.

For employers unfamiliar with the names of these drugs – Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, Saxenda and potentially more – it’s time for a crash course in obesity and the science behind these formulations.

It’s because of their growing popularity and price tags of as much as $13,600 or as high as $17,000 per patient per year, an amount which could possibly continue for the rest of an individual’s life as indications expand to patients with obesity.

These drugs have skyrocketed in popularity this year. In fact, the demand for Wegovy has prompted its manufacturer Novo Nordisk to pause its advertising campaign and limit its starting doses for new patients as it struggles to meet demand. Telehealth company Ro also reversed aggressive promotional efforts for Wegovy that involved splashy ads in subway stations.

Most recently, it has been reported that some dosages of Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro are also in shortage, the latest in a line of recurring supply issues caused by patients using the diabetes medication as a weight loss treatment.

The latest shortage will result in “intermittent backorders” for three of six doses through July 2023, with the manufacturer attributing this situation to continued dynamic patient demand and prompting the company to expand its manufacturing capacity.

These shortages also spurred many desperate patients to seek specially compounded versions of the drugs which contain semaglutide/GLP1s. Following reports of adverse events, the FDA issued a sharp warning that these compounded products have not been shown to be safe or effective.

In fact, legal teams from one manufacturer have filed lawsuits alleging several medical spas, wellness clinics, and weight loss clinics around the U.S. are illegally selling compounded versions of its medicines.