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Chasing Life

Many of us are setting new personal goals in the new year – like exercising, eating healthier or even trying to lose weight. What does our weight really tell us about our health? Is it possible to feel healthy without obsessing over the numbers on the scale? Are our ideas about weight and health based on outdated beliefs? On this season of Chasing Life, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is talking to doctors, researchers, and listeners to take a closer look at what our weight means for our health. Plus, what you need to know about the latest weight loss drugs and how to talk about weight and better health with others, especially kids.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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The Big Business Behind Weight Loss Drugs
Chasing Life
Feb 6, 2024

It’s become a multibillion-dollar business: weight loss drugs. Demand is high, as is the cost. How did medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and Zepbound become so popular and so profitable? And what kind of impact might they have on the future of food and healthcare? Dr. Sanjay Gupta turns to his CNN colleague Meg Tirrell for answers, and a little context about the business behind these new medications.

Episode Transcript
Meg Tirrell
00:00:02
The chairman of a biotech company. I was having lunch with him one day and he was like, "hey, you should know, I'm taking this diabetes drug for weight loss." And he was like, "you know, these drugs really work for weight loss. I'm not diabetic, but I'm taking it anyway." And I was like, "okay, that's interesting." That was several years ago.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:00:17
'That's CNN Medical Correspondent, my colleague and my friend Meg Tirrell. For years now, first as a senior health science reporter at CNBC and now as a CNN medical correspondent, she has been following the rise of new anti-obesity medications, known as GLP-1 drugs. You know them as Ozempic and Wegovy. Now I've got to tell you, we all have something to learn from Meg. Why? Because she was one of the first to really dig into the business side of these medications: the costs, the surges in demand and the subsequent shortages. But even Meg admits she never really predicted that weight loss medications would become the multibillion dollar industry that it's become.
Meg Tirrell
00:01:02
I sort of didn't really put it together because obesity drugs have been not a space that pharma has wanted to be for the last decade. They really failed with the last crop they tried. And so it just sort of went out of my head. I wasn't thinking, this is going to be something big that, you know, companies pursued.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:01:20
'U.S. health care providers wrote more than 9 million prescriptions for Wegovy and other drugs used for weight loss. And that was during the last three months of 2022 alone. The numbers have only gone up since then. And despite the high price tag for these medications - about a $1,000 or more a month - demand is only expected to increase even further in 2024. So how did these medications become so popular and so profitable? And is there a future where these medications become more affordable? Now, you may remember last week on the podcast, we heard from a physician who described just how life changing these drugs have been for some of his patients. I'd really recommend listening to that episode if you want to learn about the science behind how these medicines work, but also the benefits and the risks. Now, after recording that episode, I couldn't help but wonder if these medications remain so expensive, what good might they do for the patients who need them the most? That's why today I'm turning to Meg for the answers to these big questions about the business of these new weight loss drugs. I'm Doctor Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, and this is Chasing Life.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:02:42
Welcome to Chasing Life.
Meg Tirrell
00:02:44
Oh, thank you so much. I'm a long time listener.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:02:46
Thank you. Yeah, I know you work because people say that, but you actually will send me notes after you listen to a podcast. So that's always evidence that you actually did listen, which I really appreciate.
Meg Tirrell
00:02:56
I love it.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:02:56
Thank you very much. You were covering sort of the the business side of health care at CNBC. When did these weight loss drugs, especially the business side of these drugs, when did that really hit your radar? And I'm just curious if you can kind of give us your thinking at the time? So you see this story starting to develop, how does Meg Tirrell start to think about it and approach it?
Meg Tirrell
00:03:20
Well, it's funny, you know, I actually first heard about one of these drugs before I knew anything about how big this category was going to be. I mean, it goes back to a drug called Byetta, which was a diabetes drug. And I remember, this is one of these cool science stories, it was sort of discovered because it used the key ingredient in the saliva of a Gila monster, like this giant lizard. And so all these weird drug discovery stories. But, you know, this was a category of drugs for diabetes. And then before the pandemic, Ozempic was approved, but, you know, was approved for diabetes. And then through the pandemic, you know, Wegovy was approved. That's the version of it for weight loss. And I didn't really pay that close attention cause we were also focused on Covid, like I it just didn't really cross my path. But then Eli Lilly put out some results of tirzepatide, which of course now is a brand name Mounjaro for type two diabetes. But this was their phase three trial for results in weight loss. And it was like 22% on the highest dose that they saw over the course of something like 72 weeks in the study. And Eli Lilly was really like, "this is a big deal." And I was like, this is a big deal. I mean, the companies have been trying to do this for so long and they just really haven't succeeded with medicines. So I remember doing this story that morning on CNBC, and it was just sort of from there. It like really just snowballed into realizing how big these drugs are.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:04:40
So can you give some context? You just mentioned this number 22%. What sorts of numbers had these drugs been achieving before?
Meg Tirrell
00:04:49
Yeah. So going back to the last crop of of weight loss medicines, we saw some smaller companies try to bring about maybe a decade ago you were seeing maybe 5 to 10% weight loss. And you're also seeing concerning side effects.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:05:02
Not to interrupt you. But that 5 to 10%. So whatever your weight is, if you let's say you weighed 200 pounds, so 10% would be 20 pounds. That's typically what you could expect over a certain period of time?
Meg Tirrell
00:05:14
That was on the top end of the range of what you could expect to get with one of these weight loss medications. And these drugs were, combinations of older drugs, sort of approved drugs that were already generic. And so, you know, they kind of represented a new wave of attempts at treatment, but they really were not successful because of safety concerns and because they weren't producing the amounts of weight loss that I think people thought were really meaningful. So these just really seem like dramatically different medicines for both of those reasons.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:05:46
I wonder if you could set the scene for us a little bit, just in terms of how big a deal these drugs are. There was this report where I think Goldman Sachs projected 13% of adults in the United States. You know, more than 1 in 10, might be at an anti obesity medication by 2030. So you know, if you do the math it's roughly 15 million people. And that doesn't even include people who have diabetes. Tell us about this, not just from a medical perspective but also from a business perspective.
Meg Tirrell
00:06:12
This is expected to be the largest class of medicines. I think of all time. The projections that I've seen, or something like $100 billion in annual revenue by 2030 from this class of drugs. And if you think about that and you want to compare it to something, the way I sort of think about it is the Covid vaccines that really the peak of their revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, for Pfizer, I think in 2022 is something like $38 billion, of sales. And for Moderna, it was an additional like 19 billion. You had a little bit more from AstraZeneca, but still you're looking there at what is that, you know, around $60 billion. That was during a global pandemic when they were making vaccines for something everybody, you know, was trying to get protected against. So then you compare that. And these weight loss drugs are going to be bigger than that. I mean, there are obvious differences with the way you price these kinds of things, etc., etc. but this is just a huge opportunity for these companies. And it's really fascinating from a sort of business reporter perspective, to watch how the industry's approach to weight loss drugs has changed just over the last decade. It went from, you know, these three little biotech companies trying to push these drugs through, really finding no success. And then these massive companies, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, just dominating the market. And then all these other companies having to try to get in. You know, Amgen has many products they're working on. Pfizer has a pill version it's trying to move forward. Regeneron is working on genetic based treatments. This is going to be a huge sort of new area that we're only really seeing the beginning of right now.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:07:45
Yeah, a lot of people, if they've read anything about Novo Nordisk and you spend time with the folks at the company, they're Danish, they make Ozempic and Wegovy, and it's been reported that their market value is now larger than Denmark's GDP. It is pretty remarkable. When you spent time there, did you get the impression that they anticipated this, that it was going to be this big a deal?
Meg Tirrell
00:08:07
I guess I would have to say the evidence might suggest they didn't anticipate this, because they have not been able to keep up with demand. I mean, I'm not sure anybody could have anticipated this, but they are trying to increase manufacturing. Eli Lilly has built two completely new manufacturing plants in North Carolina to make these kinds of medicines. And so they're actually seen as sort of the future leaders of this market because they have this manufacturing capacity. So I guess just by evidence of the fact that Novo Nordisk can't quite meet demand, they couldn't have seen how big these were going to be.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:08:40
You know, it's interesting because, again, anyone who's paid attention this a little bit has probably heard of Ozempic by now and Wegovy, they sort of really kicked off this, this craze. But what other drugs are you seeing becoming popular? I mean, how is how is Zepbound, for example, doing?
Meg Tirrell
00:08:58
From what I've seen from stock market analysts who follow this, the tracking that I've seen of the launch of Zepbound, which really only came onto the market after Thanksgiving, it is going faster than any of the previous drugs we've seen in this class. So, you know, there are a lot of patients who are incredibly excited about this. There are a lot of barriers to them still being able to get it, but we are hearing about a ton of people trying to do it.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:09:22
When we we talk about the the access, I guess one of the things that always comes up is just the price of these drugs. Just in general, what can you say about how much these drugs cost on average?
Meg Tirrell
00:09:35
So the price of these medicines, before any insurance or discounts or anything kicks in at ranges from a little more than $900 for Ozempic to more than $1,300 for Wegovy, and that is per month.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:09:50
Per month, wow.
00:09:51
Per month. And, you know, we're hearing about a lot of insurance problems with people trying to get these covered, particularly for weight loss. And so if you don't have insurance coverage, you're looking at a $1,300 a month bill out of your pocket, and very few people can afford that. I've actually talked with patients who have tried to do that for a short period of time, or have tried other methods, like ordering Ozempic from Canada. You know where, maybe it costs them $300 a month through some, you know, importation system they were able to find. But those are not sustainable ways of getting your medicines.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:10:23
So what what happens then to patients whose insurance may not cover these medications? What sort of options do they have?
Meg Tirrell
00:10:31
Well, I've talked with some doctors who will try older generic drugs, which are really cheap, even if your insurer won't cover it. You know, that would be less than $50 out of pocket per month. So that is an option for some people. And some people even prefer to try older medicines just because they've been around longer. They may not work quite as well. They don't have to be taken by injections, so there are reasons that those can be better. Unfortunately, another way people are turning right now is to compounded versions of these drugs. So that's when, you know, pharmacies are allowed to sort of mix their own versions of these drugs, and they are actually allowed to if drugs are on the FDA shortages list, which semaglutide is currently. So that's just sort of opened up this whole market for versions of this drug that are not made by Novo Nordisk and that are not inspected by the FDA. So you just don't know the quality of these things. And we have heard from both the FDA and from the drug manufacturers that these compounded versions may not contain the drugs that they say they do at all. Eli Lilly just put out a statement recently saying that they found one compounded version claiming to be to tirzepatide that was only sugar alcohol. And they say there are impurities in these things. And they've also said that some versions of semaglutide contain something called semaglutide salt, which is something completely different and is not FDA approved. And then you just have no idea what you're getting. So you have to be so careful if you're not going through your doctor and getting this from a pharmacy you trust.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:11:56
Now, let me insert a word of caution here. I'm sure we've all seen the advertisements for weight loss medications on our social media feeds, and what Meg just said, I think is a good reminder to exercise caution when you're buying weight loss drugs, any drugs really from an unknown website. Here's something to share with you. Late last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned it had seized thousands of units of counterfeit Ozempic. In fact, it is now being called "Fauxempic." The FDA is now sending letters to these online sellers warning them to stop selling these knockoffs. Now, if you think you may have bought counterfeit medications, you can report that online to the FDA. But at the same time, the issue is this. I know folks are often seeking these medications online because they're looking for an affordable option. Which raises the issue of coverage, including federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Meg Tirrell
00:12:53
While the centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actually has a ban on coverage of weight loss drugs, so they cannot cover it at all, you do hear about state Medicaid programs that can choose to cover these medicines. And so that is in place in some places. But Medicare is not covering weight loss drugs. And there's actually federal legislation that's been introduced to try to change that. And so that could change over time. But of course, that's a huge swath of the population that doesn't have access to weight loss drugs. Sometimes doctors will try to get around that by prescribing Ozempic or Mounjaro, these type two diabetes drug off label. But I think there's less and less of that happening, too, because insurers are seeing how expensive this is.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:13:36
'I don't know if you have an answer to this, but, you know, you look at this sort of broadly and you think, okay, these are obviously very popular drugs. A lot of people want to get their hands on them, maybe 13% of the adult population, according to some of these analyzes. People take it for life. I mean, from a pharmaceutical company standpoint, this is exactly probably what they would like, an expensive drug that people would have to take for the rest of life. Look, if you're in your 30s, you could be talking about taking thousands of these injections over your lifetime. Right? So that that is sort of what they want. Do you think that companies like Novo Nordisk are going to be disrupted some point? Let me put it to you like this. If you because you're, you know, did business reporting as well, would you invest in this company? Not that we're giving investment advice on this show, but what do you think about this longer-term, five years, ten years from now?
Meg Tirrell
00:14:32
'There is a ton of research going on into this space. And one of the good things about when you see business success like this is that it opens up more investment into early science, and so that can really propel a lot more development of promising approaches. I haven't seen anything that is on any realm of near-term horizon. That would be a cure for somebody with high body weight. So let's say, you know, you can take it once and, you know, it'd be like you would never have to take it again. But the companies have talked about working on changing what they call your set point. So where your metabolism is sort of and settled. Yeah. But but that's incredibly early. I mean, this is not like they don't have an approach to it yet. They don't know how to do it or if you can do it. I would say, though, typically it hasn't been a good business model when companies cure stuff, unfortunately. I mean, it's sort of ridiculous to say that. But, you know, Gilead is a big company that makes a lot of antivirals and they cure hepatitis C. Well they can cure hepatitis C. Not everybody is cured of hepatitis C. And that became a very good business for them for a while, selling these medicines. They got very criticized for how highly they priced these. But Wall Street turned on them so fast, when they basically said, "okay, you're curing everybody. Where's your market?" You know, this is not an ongoing source of revenue. Wall Street doesn't like these kinds of markets where you cure your patients and the market disappears. And that's very cynical to say. And that's not to say that the companies wouldn't work on something, because these companies do have good people in them who want to help people and want to develop good medicines. So it's not like somebody's in there saying, "oh, this is going to cure everybody. Spike it." You know, it's just that it's very infrequent you come across something that cures things. I would be curious to see how Wall Street would react to it. I think they would see a huge bolus of patients, and then they would ask, "when can we dose it again?"
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:16:23
'That is such an interesting point, Meg. I think the idea that let's say you're working in a pharma company and you're doing good science, and part of where you're headed is finding a therapeutic that it could actually change the set point for somebody. So it's not so much that they have to take a weekly injection. They've they've changed the set point of their weight. And now that's going to be a long-term sort of benefit from them, from that therapeutic as opposed to something they would have to take every, every week. That may not be incentivized within a pharmaceutical company. Or am I am I hearing that right? Like the scientist may want to do good work, but at the incentive is, hey, look, we need to create something that people are going to take once a week for the rest of their life, versus take it a few times, change your set point. That may not get as much traction.
Meg Tirrell
00:17:12
'It's complicated to say that it wouldn't, because I think you would still see a really large market for a medicine like that. You know, you could say, however, many people are in this category of high body weight who would need a treatment like this? That would be such a huge market. Of course, we would bring something like that forward. There's also, of course, the opportunity cost of not doing something like that. Another company could come up with it and undercut you. So I, I wouldn't say that if they came up with this drug, they wouldn't pursue it, but it. Is really interesting to see the, the pressures from Wall Street. Those are really real. I mean, if you I listen to these company conference calls every quarter and these one-time products, the analysts who follow the stocks are always asking, "will you be able to redose this?" Because they want to see more revenue. I mean, it's just a constant pressure on these executives. So it's that kind of push-pull against your funding source, which is really Wall Street versus, you know, the science. And Novo Nordisk has said it's working on understanding that set point. And other companies are going to work on it too. So we could see that, but it seems very far away.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:18:16
Yeah. And look, I appreciate not wanting to be cynical about these things, but the concept of even before these particular weight loss medications, the idea of ever greening drugs so that they don't come off of patent protection by changing the dosing, by changing how the medications administered. That's been a longstanding practice among pharmaceutical companies. And it's it's, again, it's not to malign any of the people who are working on this, but rather to say that it's gotten in the way, sometimes, of people being able to get these medications generically at a cheaper price.
Meg Tirrell
00:18:49
Oh, yeah. I mean, there's all kinds of shenanigans that go on. This is a for profit business, and the pressures are real from Wall Street to to not just see the same revenue over time, but to grow your revenue over time. And that causes a lot of these problems we see with rising drug prices and, as you said, evergreening and all kinds of things companies do to keep patients on higher priced medicines.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:19:13
Coming up in just a moment, I'm going to talk more with Meg about the future of these drugs. Will more Americans soon find themselves turning to these medications? And if so, in what form?
Meg Tirrell
00:19:25
You think like, oh, really? Like sometimes I gained like 5 or 10 pounds in a few months. Like, do I need to go on one of these things? Like, is that really the beginning of a disease? I mean, that's why it's what's so complicated about weight loss drugs as medicine.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:19:37
That's up next.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:19:44
I am curious when you look at something that's as massive as these weight loss drugs and you think about, okay, what is the the other ripple effects that these drugs may have on society? I have a friend of mine who worked at Mondelez, you know, the big packaged food company during the pandemic. He was telling me that the the amount of Oreos, for example, that were being consumed went way up. People at home, I guess, you know, comfort food, I don't know, there's all sorts of different reasons. But he's also intimated to me that there's these concerns that the packaged food industry, the junk food industry, they're maybe a little worried that these drugs would pose a threat to their business. So you got weight loss drugs becoming very popular, more than 10% of the population, maybe taking them. Ripple effects as a result of that. What are you hearing?
Meg Tirrell
00:20:35
I think it's really interesting to think about the effect a drug class could have on society. We do hear these ideas that, you know, people on these medicines, we know that they are eating less food. And so probably their purchasing goes down. How big of a ripple effect that has across the economy, I think is sort of yet to be seen. And I think a lot of people in the financial world maybe think that those fears are, you know, they overblown, is what they would say right now. But the other thing I've seen is and have experience having covered business for so long is that companies will react. And so if people are buying less food or they're buying different kinds of food, the companies will package the food in ways that would appeal to somebody whose eating patterns have changed. I mean, they're going to just react to whatever they're seeing in the market. So we might see real changes based on this.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:21:27
That's fascinating, though, just to think that people sit around and think like that, and probably convinced that people will still eat their Oreo cookies, no matter how big these drugs become. You know, one of the things I saw was Weight Watchers really starting to do a pivot in terms of how they're approaching their consumers. It's always been about counting calories, managing your calories. They're seemingly leaning into these medications as well, and even creating these digital platforms to help people manage taking these medications. I'm just curious, I don't know if you have an opinion on this, but what do you think of what Weight Watchers has been doing? And have you seen similar things in the pharma world?
Meg Tirrell
00:22:08
Yeah, you kind of have seen almost all companies that are working in the, you know, world of trying to sell weight loss products or programs have to embrace weight loss drugs. It's like a, if you can't beat em, join them kind of thing. I do see some companies that, you know, propose, you know, staying on the keto diet, for example, saying, oh, well, if you come off the drugs, you know, you regain the weight. So it doesn't really work. And it's like, okay, well, if you stop doing the keto diet, you also regain the weight. So it's like it's all kind of the same. But you know, companies trying to essentially see what their niche is in accepting that people are going to be interested in these medicines and trying to, you know, get a piece of them in some way. I think there is sort of a an acknowledgment with these medicines that these can help, where a lot of times the other things that have been preached for decades, you know, really don't help everybody.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:23:02
You talked about this earlier as well, but if you start to just sort of look into your crystal ball, what do you think the next iteration of these drugs might look like?
Meg Tirrell
00:23:14
'So already we've seen, you know, the newer drugs build on semaglutide. So semaglutide mimics one hormone called GLP-1. Tirzepatide, which is Mounjaro and Zepbound mimic two hormones, GLP-1 and GIP. And so that sort of builds on the efficacy. We're seeing greater amounts of weight loss with tirzepatide than semaglutide generally. The next generation from Eli Lilly, for example, adds yet a third hormone on to that, which also starts with G. So they call it triple G. It's, GLP-1, GIP and glucagon. That drugs called retatrutide. And that actually showed the most weight loss we've ever seen in a clinical trial, something more than 25%, I believe, in a phase two trial last year. So that's continuing to be tested by Eli Lilly. We're also going to see these medicines potentially come out as pills instead of weekly injections. Eli Lilly is doing that. Novo Nordisk is doing that. Pfizer has one, although it's suffered a few setbacks. So those will be the near-term changes. But longer term, companies are also looking at the fact that you can have muscle wasting when you lose weight so fast. And that can be a problem. So some companies are working on trying to, support your muscles basically as you lose all of this weight. Eli Lilly made an acquisition of a company that focuses on that. So could there be combination drugs where you're sort of making sure your muscles are staying while you're losing fat? I mean, it's really kind of fascinating to think about how companies are approaching this. And then, you know, Regeneron and Amgen, both companies that use genetic data a lot in their drug discovery and development. They've looked through these massive databases of people's genomes to find what makes people who are like naturally thin, quote unquote, different genetically from other people. And they've tried to sort of take those findings and turn that into a drug. And could that lead to new ways of providing weight loss through medicines as well? We don't know yet.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:25:07
Do you think when you put this all together that these medications might eventually be used, approved, accepted for more cosmetic as opposed to therapeutic reasons? Like I want to lose 10 to 20 pounds, you know, for a big event. We hear that's already happening. So I'm not suggesting something that is totally out of left field, but do you think that will ever get to the point where that's accepted?
Meg Tirrell
00:25:32
It's possible for sure. At this point, the companies are very sensitive to seeming like they're pushing their drugs for anything other than what they're approved for. Eli Lilly actually just put out an open letter saying that they stand firmly against use of their medications for cosmetic purposes. So right now, no, but you could see companies down the line certainly trying to do that, whether it's Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly is an open question. But already I'm hearing doctors talk about using these tools in different ways, especially if we get pill versions, which would be easier to take. And then, of course, there's a whole host of problems with, you know, that being easier to get, so people taking them more inappropriately. You know, I've heard obesity doctors talk about treating people with maybe pills that might not have such powerful effects, but enough effects that even if your BMI is not in a category that's considered obese or overweight, or maybe you just tick into the overweight category, one doctor describe that to me as like the early stages of disease, quote unquote, and suggests that you're going to keep going up unless they treat you with something. So do you treat with these low doses of oral medications to try to prevent somebody from, you know, going into a higher BMI? I mean, it's interesting to hear them talk about this because you think like, oh, really? Like sometimes I gained like 5 or 10 pounds in, you know, a few months, like, do I need to go on one of these things? Like, is that really the beginning of a disease? I mean, that's why what's so complicated about weight loss drugs as medicine, you know.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:27:04
Yeah. And I think even the language around it, you know, obesity as a disease, we know that having overweight, being overweight has this, this relationship to all these other chronic diseases. So, you know, how do you eventually draw those lines, you know, it becomes, I think, less and less binary and more of a sort of moving sort of scale. What I worry about a little bit is that there may be a backlash, ultimately, to these types of medications. It's just become so popular so quickly that ultimately there's this backlash. And do you think that there's a possibility of that? I mean, how do you think about it?
Meg Tirrell
00:27:40
I think one of the complicating things in the way people think about these drugs is it is, you know, the idea that somebody taking them, they're cheating somehow. Like, you know, they should be doing the hard work. And, you know, even people who take the medicines themselves have described feeling that way, like, oh, I'm taking the easy way out. It's like, if you're taking a medicine that your doctor has prescribed to you because they think that you could benefit from it in a, you know, a way that will help your health. And so I also think it's problematic if you think that somebody should be on these medicines because you've judged them to be unhealthy, because you're looking at them and you're saying, okay, you're overweight or your obese or whatever it is, you should be taking one of these medicines. And that's something we've heard from advocates in this area who are saying, you know, I'm worried about the health care I'm going to get in the future because doctors are just going to say you're choosing to stay the weight you are, you know, because you could go on this medicine and you're not. And so there's a concern, I think, that these tools are being considered as really blunt tools. And, you know, not everybody who could qualify for them will want to take them. Or maybe it won't be appropriate for them to take them for any number of reasons. And this is such a complex area because it is one of the few areas in health where you and I were talking when I saw you in Atlanta recently about just this is one of the areas where, like, you can see somebody and you, you can see an effect of a drug on them. You know, you're you're taking a drug and your appearance can change dramatically. And then people can make assumptions about your health based on what they see.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:29:08
I am really excited. You're at CNN, Meg. I'm really excited. You're on the team.
Meg Tirrell
00:29:13
Thank you.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:29:14
I always learn something when I talk to you. And and I really appreciate your reporting. You go deep into these things. You've traveled around the world investigating this, and you're obviously, you're just one of these people who just stays on top of all of this, and we all benefit because of it. So thank you very much.
Meg Tirrell
00:29:30
Oh. Thank you. And the feeling is more than mutual.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:29:34
Meg, as she always does, really give me a lot to think about in terms of how these drugs could change the way we treat and even talk about obesity, I think. It's safe to say that this is pretty uncharted territory, and we're really just beginning to understand the broader implications of these drugs on our bodies. On the economy, on our society as a whole. So next week on the podcast, we're going to talk to Weight Watchers CEO Sima Sistani. She has a lot to say about how weight loss medications are changing their industry. And in fact, the industry as a whole.
Sima Sistani
00:30:07
It's on us to recognize where we got it wrong and where we have been a part of the the narrative that it is a matter of willpower.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:30:18
We'll sit down for a one on one conversation about why she said that Ozempic could mean the end of diet culture. That's coming up next Tuesday.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
00:30:35
Chasing Life is a production of CNN audio. Our podcast is produced by Eryn Mathewson, Jennifer Lai and Grace Walker. Our senior producer and showrunner is Felicia Patinkin. Andrea Kane is our medical writer and Tommy Bazarian is our engineer. Dan Dzula is our technical director. And the executive producer of CNN Audio is Steve Licktieg, with support from Jamus Andrest, John Dionora, Haley Thomas, Alex Manesseri, Robert Mathers, Leni Steinhardt, Nicole Pesaru, and Lisa Namerow. Special thanks to Ben Tinker, Amanda Sealy, and Nadia Kounang of CNN Health and Katie Hinman.