A drug-turned-cultural phenomenon, Ozempic gained widespread attention earlier this year when celebrities and influencers alike sought out its weight-loss benefits.
Ozempic was 2023's buzziest drug
Media outlets were enamored with the drug and published story after story touting Ozempic’s seemingly magical weight-loss properties. It's not difficult to understand why: Ozempic ranked as the sixth most-advertised prescription drug brand in 2022, with a U.S. measured-media spend of $181 million, according to Vivvix spending data and Pathmatics paid social data as reported in Ad Age Leading National Advertisers 2023.
Ozempic, which contains semaglutide and is owned by Novo Nordisk, was approved by the U.S. for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes in 2017. A higher dose of the drug, sold under the name Wegovy and also owned by the same company, was approved for weight loss in 2021. It didn't take long for consumers to notice the potential of the weekly injectable, which can cost about $1,600 per month without insurance.
But it wasn’t all rosy news for Ozempic. The drug also caught pushback this year, as those using it for weight loss created shortages for actual diabetics.
The drug has exploded in popularity and diet programs such as Weight Watchers and Noom have both taken steps to integrate semaglutide into their offerings in 2023.
Ozempic, which already is the leader in the diabetes category, is currently forecast to grow its sales by 23% in 2023, to $12.5 billion. That projection could rise further as Novo Nordisk explores a new pill form for the drug, which currently is only available as an injectable.
Yet there are signs of battles to come. Novo Nordisk is currently suing med spas and wellness clinics, which it alleges are selling an unauthorized version of Ozempic and Wegovy. In addition, this week, the European Union's drug regulator announced an investigation into Ozempic and another Novo Nordisk weight loss drug, Saxenda, after two cases of suicidal thoughts linked to the drugs were reported to the watchdog.