Behind Ozempic Media Buzz, Undisclosed Drugmaker Money
Physicians, activists, and celebrities are quoted by newspapers and media outlets touting Ozempic without disclosing financial ties to the drugmaker.
Celebrities, physicians, patient advocacy groups, public health experts, academics, and a variety of community leaders have appeared in dozens of media outlets to tout the wonders of a new class of weight loss drugs without disclosing financial ties to Novo Nordisk.
This pharmaceutical behemoth is the driving force behind an aggressive campaign to persuade Americans of the merits of semaglutide, a diabetes and weight loss drug marketed under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy. This medication mimics the GLP-1 hormone, which assists patients in losing weight by regulating their appetite. As its popularity has surged the medication has encountered shortages, transforming Novo Nordisk into one of the most valuable pharmaceutical companies globally.
Amid the frenzy to cover this trendy new drug and a public relations push by pharmaceutical firms to promote the use of GLP-1 medications, media outlets have consistently failed to report on the associated risks and potential conflicts of interest among the experts they feature.
For instance, in the ongoing debate concerning insurance coverage for Ozempic, which currently costs approximately $1,350 per month, an ABC News story quoted only one physician, Dr. Deborah Horn, who advocated for Medicare to cover the medication. However, the article omitted that Horn has received nearly a quarter of a million dollars from Novo Nordisk since 2020. The article also cited a study on the coverage issue produced by the Urban League but failed to note that the study was financed by the same pharmaceutical giant. These lapses in disclosure are indicative of a pattern seen in much of the news coverage surrounding this drug.