According to data released by advertising analytics firm MediaRadar, drugmakers in the U.S. spent nearly $500 million on advertising for obesity and diabetes treatments in the first seven months of this year, a 20% increase from the same period last year. This surge in ad spending is attributed to the hype surrounding Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic and its weight loss counterpart Wegovy, both of which have seen a significant rise in demand. These drugs, known as GLP-1s, mimic a hormone in the gut that suppresses appetite, making them effective tools for weight loss. U.S. healthcare providers wrote over 9 million prescriptions for Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar medications in the last three months of 2022, a 300% increase from early 2020.
The top four drugs that were heavily advertised during this period were Ozempic, Wegovy, Novo Nordisk’s diabetes pill Rybelsus, and Boehringer Ingelheim’s diabetes treatment Jardiance. Combined, these treatments accounted for $358 million, or approximately three-quarters, of the total ad spending for obesity and diabetes drugs. Ozempic alone had $120 million in ad spending, a 23% increase compared to the same period last year. MediaRadar’s CEO, Todd Krizelman, noted that the popularity of Ozempic has positively influenced the demand for other weight loss and diabetes drugs, particularly Wegovy, which had a significant increase in ad spending from April to July.
While Wegovy accounted for over $20 million in ad spending during the first seven months of the year, Novo Nordisk temporarily halted some key promotional advertising for the drug in May, specifically local and national TV advertising. However, the majority of the spending on Wegovy was allocated to digital advertising, such as online videos. This surge in advertising expenditure reflects the intense competition among pharmaceutical companies to capture new customers and meet the growing demand for effective obesity and diabetes treatments.