America’s obesity problem has only worsened over the last two decades. From 1999 to 2020, the CDC reports that the incidence of adult obesity in the US has steadily climbed from 31% to 42%. Despite numerous attempts by the weight-loss industry to capitalize on this alarming trend through promoting faddish nutrition plans and flashy fitness regimens, few of these approaches seem to generate a lasting impact. The landmark approval of GLP-1 agonists Wegovy and Saxenda for weight management, along with the increasingly common off-label use of Ozempic and Mounjaro, have created an unexpected bright spot for the pharmaceutical industry. Fueled by viral news of celebrities using these drugs for weight management, interest has surged in recent months. Leveraging occam™ data, we investigate consumer awareness of these medications.
Though not yet approved by the FDA as a treatment for obesity, Ozempic’s unparalleled success for this off-label use has triggered a gold rush to capture share in the weight loss drug market, which is potentially valued at up to $150 billion. Figures 1 and 2 demonstrate that Ozempic is far outpacing its rivals in terms of consumer awareness.
The popularity of these medications among celebrities (dubbed the “worst-kept secret in Hollywood”) and significant presence on social media have played a major role in their success. However, government-sponsored insurance programs and most private insurance programs do not cover obesity treatments like Wegovy. Ozempic’s official FDA status as a medication for type 2 diabetes has made prescriptions for it much more accessible, even though the use of it for obesity is off-label.
Though Ozempic and Wegovy are well recognized medications for weight loss (Ozempic for off-label use), awareness varies significantly by consumer demographic. For instance, Figure 3 reveals that individuals earning more than $100k are more familiar with Ozempic and Wegovy than those earning less than $100k. Furthermore, Figure 4 illustrates that awareness of these drugs is skewed towards women, often by a factor of two or more.
Even though the significant majority of those aware of Ozempic identify it as a diabetes medication (which is its on-label purpose), Figure 5 shows that one in three perceive Ozempic to be a weight-loss drug. Additionally, most of those aware of Wegovy (which is FDA approved for weight loss), correctly view it as a weight-loss drug (Figure 6). As mainstream knowledge of these treatments continues to expand, and as Novo Nordisk puts out similar products that it suggests “may offer even greater efficacy,” it will be interesting to see whether the company can sustain the dominant level of mindshare it currently enjoys.
Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro is a special case. Although it is approved as a medication for type-2 diabetes (similar to Ozempic) and not as a weight loss treatment, considerable publicity from major news outlets regarding its exceptional effectiveness in combating obesity (it was dubbed the “King Kong” of weight-loss drugs, WSJ, 4/3/23) appears to have significantly influenced perception of Mounjaro as a weight-loss medication (Figure 7). The drug is currently awaiting fast-track approval from the FDA for weight management, with many anticipating approval by year’s end. Occam will continue to monitor perceptions surrounding Mounjaro and its competitors as approval nears.
Source: Analysis based on occam™ proprietary AI-enhanced research platform with various data sources, including a wide range of questions asked to over 1000 respondents per day with over three years of history. Information is census-balanced and uses occam’s™ proprietary AI algorithm that ensures minimal sampling bias (<1%). Contact us for more info.