Three popular weight loss drugs are dominating Wall Street even though long-term implications of the drugs are still unknown. The hype surrounding the effectiveness of the diabetes drug Ozempic, reported by Novo Nordisk Global, has caused celebrities to flock to their doctors and a sell-off of shares of medical device companies on Wall Street. Medical device investors who owned Dexcom and DaVita shares are selling due to an anticipated decline in sales of medical devices associated with obesity and commonly used to treat diabetes and kidney disease.
So far, the results of all three medications have been impressive. Users of Ozempic, an injectable containing semaglutide approved to treat diabetes in 2017, reported a lower blood glucose within the first week of use and significant weight loss after only a few weeks with minimal side effects. Celebrities like Sharon Osbourne and many others admitted paying top dollar for the diabetes drug to lose weight and reported an average loss of 35 pounds. Sharon Osbourne told reporters she had to stop using the drug because she got too thin. The growing off-label use of the medication eventually contributed to a shortage of Ozempic that began in 2022 and continues today. Oprah Winfrey spoke openly against anyone using a weight loss drug, accusing them of taking the “easy way out”, which caused an immediate double digit drop in WeightWatchers stock. Oprah serves on the board of WW and owns 8% of the company.
Elon Musk is open about using Wegovy to lose weight and get fit. Wegovy from Novo is an injectable containing a higher dose of semaglutide than Ozempic and was approved for weight loss in 2021. Most users of Wegovy lose an average of 15% of their body weight with minimal side effects. Elon reported losing 30 pounds on the medication. To date, there have been no observed cases of serious side effects in semaglutide users.
The third most popular injectable weight loss medication, Mounjaro, from Eli Lilly, is a Type 2 diabetes treatment tirzepatide approved by the FDA in 2022. Early studies show Mounjaro to be more effective in diabetes management and weight loss than Ozempic and Wegovy, but when this blog was written was yet to be approved for weight loss and doesn’t create the same buzz as the other two medications. This may be due in part to a warning label on the medication about the potential for serious gastrointestinal side effects. Ozempic does not contain the same warning. Regardless of the risk of side effects, because the average weight loss experienced by users is more than that of those using Ozempic or Wegovy, off-label use of the medication has caused a shortage.
As for the effects these drugs have on Wall Street, Anjalee Khemlani of Yahoo!Finance says the medications are dominating the market. She added, “Ozempic is really taking the lead there with $3.1 billion alone for the last quarter. Meanwhile, Wegovy over $1 billion, and Mounjaro just getting to that $1 billion mark, making them already blockbuster drugs.”