A new and expensive trend to losing weight has emerged, and some notable figures are jumping on the bandwagon.
The use of certain diabetic medications – including a drug made by Novo Nordisk — to shed excess pounds has not only exploded on TikTok but become part of several celebrity diets including business magnate Elon Musk.
Earlier this month, a Twitter user called out the Tesla and SpaceX CEO for his "fit, ripped & healthy" bod and asked for his secret.
Musk replied, saying he uses an injection called Wegovy as part of his diet plan alongside fasting.
TikTok user @peoples_pharmacy allegedly speculated that Kim Kardashian may have also used Wegovy, Ozempic, manufactured by Novo Nordisk or Mounjaro, an Eli Lilly drug, to lose weight, according to The New York Post.
|NOVO NORDISK A/S
|ELI LILLY & CO.
While Ozempic and Wegovy are the same medication, they have different brand names, dosages, and FDA-approved intended uses, according to Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Ozempic was approved in 2017 for medical use in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, to improve blood sugar, along with diet and exercise, and reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events.
However, in initial trials of Ozempic, many diabetics were also losing weight while taking the injections, according to Glatter.
Ozempic is marketed only for use in diabetic patients with weight loss as a secondary effect of the drug’s effects and mechanism of action, Glatter said.
Meanwhile, in 2021, Wegovy was approved by the FDA for chronic weight management in adults who are obese or overweight and that have at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.
It became the first approved drug for chronic weight management in adults with general obesity or overweight since 2014, according to federal health officials.
Neither drug, though, is "intended to be used as a lifestyle medication" according to pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. Ozempic is also "not approved for chronic weight management," the company added.
Glatter warned that drugs such as Wegovy are not "designed to be a quick fix to lose a few extra pounds."
Still, "many obese people now see Wegovy as a way to ‘jump start’ their weight loss when other attempts have been unsuccessful," he said.
Even non-obese people "seek to obtain the medication ‘off label’ to get leaner or ‘cut’ and achieve a slimmer or more toned appearance," he added.
Glatter noted that social media, especially TikTok, has become full of videos "of people who have used the medication as a shortcut to avoid exercise and a healthy diet to help lose weight."
The hashtags #wegovyweightloss and #myozempicjourney have each gotten over 40 million views on the platform.
For Wegovy, in particular, the list price before insurance is $1,349.02. This includes a 28-day supply of four pens, dosed once-weekly, according to Novo Nordisk. Most individuals who have insurance coverage for Wegovy will pay no more than $25 each month, the pharmaceutical giant said.
However, many insurers will not pay for the cost of the medication if patients are not overweight or obese by standard criteria, according to Glatter.
The list price for Ozempic depends on the product formulation a health care provider prescribes for each patient, Novo Nordisk said. However, Glatter said it can run as high as $1,368 per month without insurance.