It's been credited with helping thousands of people lose weight and blamed for disrupting sales in the fast food and snack industries. One Scandinavian firm is reaping the rewards.
Products made in Denmark are booming in sales in the United States and around the world — the drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, created for diabetics, but being used by many others for weight loss.
"So, we are seeing a substantially higher than expected demand. That's even though we have increased our supply quite dramatically, the demand is just very, very high," said Martin Holst Lange, the executive vice president of development at Novo Nordisk.
On Thursday, the Danish pharmaceutical company reported sales of Ozempic and Wegovy brought in $4.8 billion in the third quarter.
Forbes reported sales of Ozempic are up 58% on an annual basis.
"It's not surprising that the sales of Ozempic and Wegovy are up because it's an incredibly effective medication," said Dr. Cecilia Low Wang, an endocrinologist for University of Colorado Health. "One of the reasons we see a lot of appropriate prescribing of this medication is that it's incredibly potent for lowering A1C, which is a huge goal for people with diabetes. It can help with weight loss and help with diabetes management."
The main ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy is semaglutide, which was developed to treat Type 2 diabetes.
After the drug is digested, the pancreas behaves as if it is about to get a burst of sugar, which stimulates insulin release. The central nervous system signals to the brain that the body has consumed a meal, creating a feeling of being full.
In one trial, patients taking Wegovy saw a weight loss of nearly 35 pounds. However, side effects can include nausea and stomach pain.
These weight loss drugs can be expensive — Wegovy, for example, costs about $1,300 a month.
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