Brief - The Hustle

The weight loss injection craze is just getting started

Written by Ben Berkley | Aug 16, 2023 5:04:04 PM

Ah, the romance of American pharmaceuticals — drug meets populace, populace meets drug, drug gets scarce and expensive, populace pursues drug across borders, Big Pharma steps in and assures everyone lives happily ever after. So beautiful.
The current public paramours are injectable diabetes treatments like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro — appetite suppressants that have been touted on social media as “miracle” weight loss drugs.

  • And we mean touted a lot: #Ozempic-tagged TikTok videos have amassed 600m+ views, per MIT Technology Review.

Are the drugs safe and effective? Not our lane. (Though we’ll note: Wegovy is currently the only one approved by the FDA for weight management.)

Supply is now better aligned with demand

The availability of the drugs from makers Novo Nordisk (Ozempic, Wegovy) and Eli Lilly (Mounjaro) has recently increased after lengthy shortages.
Without hard-to-get insurance approval, a monthly supply of these drugs hovers around ~$1k in the US. High costs and waning supply led to a recent run on cheaper Canadian and Mexican pharmacies, per Business Insider.

  • In British Columbia, 9% of Rx fills for Ozempic were for Americans in 2022, 22x higher than the average rate across all other drugs.

This market is about to get flooded

Analysts project the fervor will continue: Per NBC News, annual sales for this class of drugs are expected to set records, far surpassing arthritis treatment Humira’s all-timer $20.7B year in 2021. To prepare for anticipated demand, Novo Nordisk has invested $2.58B in expanding production capacity for their diabetes drug unit; Eli Lilly’s tab for similar expansion is up to $1.7B.

  • Eli Lilly’s cheery outlook is best told through this 2022 back pat: its CEO got an eye-popping $48.9m in shares on top of his core $21.4m pay.