“Miracle” weight loss drugs have been around forever. Usually, they’re a scam, the typical late-night TV hard-sell supplement deal.
Hardly worth your attention.
But lately a new class of weight-loss drugs is making waves… And they actually work.
I’m talking about semaglutide, marketed as Ozempic and Wegovy, and its competitors.
The Hollywood types are clamoring for this stuff, but there are real success stories out there in ordinary American towns.
Consider my friend “Tom.” (He asked me not to use his name.)
Tom is a big guy, tall like me, over 6 feet.
In college he weighed 212 pounds and felt okay with his weight.
But then he got a desk job and got older, like we all do. The pounds started to stick.
Tom’s doctor put him on blood pressure meds. Alarmingly, his blood sugar started to spike.
Now in his late 50s, the next step was full-blown diabetes. Tom’s weight hit 275.
He spent a year talking to a dietitian and rigorously following a low-carb, low-sugar diet. Played tennis three times a week. Began walking five miles a day.
Nothing helped. If anything, Tom’s weight was creeping higher. His doctor mentioned bariatric surgery, literally shrinking his stomach to let in less food.
“Please doc, is there no alternative?” he asked.
Well, his doctor said, you could try Wegovy.
It was a new drug, made by a Danish pharmaceutical firm. Essentially, it tells your brain you’re full sooner and the full feeling lasts longer, so you eat less.
You had to inject it weekly, using a pen device. And it was pricey.
But Tom’s insurance covered it, so he started off at a low dose, then ramped up over a month.
And the pounds dropped away.
270 … 262 … 250 … 243 … 230 … like magic. Four months in, he was down 45 pounds.
Tom’s next physical came around. No more prediabetic talk. His tests were now normal across the board. Healthy.
“My life turned around in less than six months. I have no words for how I feel now. It really is a miracle,” Tom told me.
So is this the end of obesity?
Studies of the drug showed patients losing 20% of their body weight in a 68-week period — on average 46 pounds.
Tom’s number, spot-on.
Less than 2% of patients on a placebo lost weight, in comparison, during the study.
Those are the stats. The stories people share online confirm seemingly miraculous effects.
One reviewer wrote:
“6 months. -65 pounds. Hypertension gone. Pre Diabetes gone. Sleep apnea gone. Lower leg skin breakdown gone. Slow progress now. I must fight return of old eating habits. Wegovy is not for wimps. But if you really want to lose weight, this is the way to go. This is like bariatric surgery in a small needle.”
Another user gushed:
“I started at a size XXL/pants size 16 and 213 lbs. After a little over a year, I am now 125 lbs and a size small/pants size 2. This drug literally reset my entire body chemistry and metabolism. I never dieted nor exercised the past year. I don’t want to lose any more weight, so I just went down to a 1mg half dose to maintain my weight loss. I am so grateful for this medicine!”
A later study showed Wegovy actually cut the risk of heart attack by an astounding 20%.
One university study projected that 15% average weight loss would translate into 43 million people no longer obese and 1.5 million fewer heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events over a decade.
The drug does more than lessen the urge to overeat. Anecdotally, patients are sharing a decreased urge to smoke, drink, even less interest in gambling.
As it turns out, scientists may have stumbled onto a general cure for any number of addictions.
It feels like we’re on the edge of a medical revolution, one that might mean the end of chronic diseases and the expensive, lifetime treatments they require.
For now, weight loss is front and center, and these new drugs are coming in the nick of time for many Americans.
Nearly 42% of Americans are obese, according to CDC data. More than 9% of them are severely obese.
That’s not just “overweight” but “obese” — clinically at risk from extra pounds.
Obesity costs us $173 billion a year to treat, adding an extra $1,861 in medical costs for each obese American vs. healthy weight people.
The health effects of obesity are hard to overstate. A few of the long-term problems, according to the CDC, include:
- Mortality (dying young).
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- High cholesterol.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Coronary heart disease.
- Gallbladder disease.
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems.
- Many types of cancer.
- Low quality of life.
- Clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning.
Just losing the extra weight can make a huge difference in all of these chronic illnesses, each of which affects quality of life and can hasten premature death. Heart disease and cancer remain the #1 and #2 killers of Americans
The drugs are expensive, $1,000 a month or more. But the insurance companies are starting to wake up to the possibilities.
What if there was one drug that dramatically reduced the risk of other, more serious health issues? A silver-bullet medication that puts people on a better long-term trajectory?
Wouldn’t people want it? Wouldn’t it make sense to pay for it?
Already, companies of all types are pondering the impact of millions of Americans shedding millions and millions of pounds in mere months.
On the upside … new clothing sales would skyrocket. Airlines would save drastically on fuel costs as lighter Americans book seats. Of course, drug companies are set to profit wildly.
Already, Eli Lilly is in the game. It just got approval this month for its own semaglutide product, to be called Zepbound. Expect it in drugstores after Thanksgiving. Lilly stock is up 35% over the past six months.
On the downside … junk food makers are already warning investors of potential lost sales. Medical device makers are on alert. Weight-loss companies are waving the white flag.
Restaurants and grocery store chains will sell less food, or perhaps just more healthy food and less of the bad stuff. It’s hard to say. Insurers and hospital chains should come out ahead as disease and death rates decline and health care overall is less burdened.
If the new drug is proven to lessen the urge to smoke, drink and gamble, that unleashes demand from hordes of potential new patients.
So-called “sin” stocks would lose their appeal among investors. Tobacco and alcohol shares would fall in value. Casinos might lose their best customers, denting gaming companies.
Like with so many fundamental changes to economic models, it’s difficult to predict the effects downstream of such major lifestyle changes. On the whole, it’s positive news, of course, but who knows what the eventual impacts might be?
One obvious winner in all this is Novo Nordisk, which makes Wegovy and Ozempic (the lower dose version meant to control diabetes).
We’ve already mentioned Lilly, and now Pfizer is trying to get into the game. All of them would like to develop a pill version of their particular compound, in order to speed adoption.
Self-injecting is not for most people, even with a simple disposable pen. A needle is a needle, after all.
However it shakes out, we may very well be looking at a future in which millions of Americans live longer, healthier lives and enjoy more of their golden years, travel more, spend more family time, even develop “third acts” as productive older adults. It will be a fascinating time for sure.
CEO, Banyan Hill, Money & Markets
P.S. Ian King was one of the first to alert us about this amazing new advance in health science.
He’s recommended two stocks to a group of his readers linked to the eventual adoption and success of the entire class of weight-loss drugs.
He shares the details about this “game-changer” in his new special video presentation here.
Adam O’Dell also just talked about these miracle drugs in his Banyan Edge. And he put some of the top companies into his Green Zone Power Ratings system.
To see how you can put his system to work for you (or see the small pharma companies with HUGE potential he’s watching now) — check this out.