What’s Behind America’s Weight Loss Drug Boom?

An obesity drug boom is sweeping America, dominating headlines, upending entire industries and stoking belief in the transformational potential of appetite-suppressing injectable treatments like Ozempic. Why it matters: Behind the wave are plenty of unknowns, including the long-term health effects and how much the skyrocketing demand will drive up health spending.

Driving the news: U.S. demand for the drugs, known as GLP-1 agonists, exceeded supply in 2023, and some analysts predict the market could surpass $150 billion a year within a decade.

  • Almost 115 million U.S. adults and children are obese. Some studies show the drugs may make patients healthier — for instance, by reducing heart failure symptoms — and could boost the case for broader uptake.

What’s behind the boom: The drugs, originally approved for diabetes, have become popular among people who just want to lose weight, presenting new risk-benefit calculations.

  • Primary care doctors, who typically have little training in obesity, have been increasingly cast as gatekeepers and are dealing with heightened demand from patients, including many who are overweight but may benefit from other treatments.

Excerpted from Axios

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