A new report indicates that popular drugs for weight loss, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, are reaching areas in the United States impacted most by diabetes and obesity.
GLP-1 inhibitors, like Ozempic and Wegovy, are injectable medications that help people lose weight or manage diabetes. They've been touted as a weight loss miracle by celebrities and have become wildly popular in the last year among the general public. So much so that reports suggest revenue from these drugs in the United States alone could reach $70 billion by 2035.
According to a new analysis, the prescription rates for these medications are higher in some areas of the country than in others.
The report, produced by Axios, used data from private insurers, Medicaid, and Medicare retrieved from PurpleLab — a health analytics firm — to determine where the drugs are most popular.
The data showed that Kentucky had the highest prescription rate for weight loss drugs. About 21 out of 1,000 people in that state take Ozempic or similar medications.
Prescription rates for drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are also high in West Virginia (18.9 prescriptions distributed per 1,000 people), Alaska (17.5 per 1,000), Mississippi (16.1 per 1,000), and Louisiana (15.4 per 1,000).
Other states with similar or slightly lower weight loss prescription rates were Idaho, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island had the lowest prescription rate at 3.7 per 1,000 people, followed by Massachusetts (4 per 1,000). Wisconsin and Hawaii both had rates of 4.3 per 1,000 residents.
Pharmacies in states including California, Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota, and Illinois doled out Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar drugs at a rate of around 5.5 per 1,000 people.
Since the insurance data did not show why healthcare providers wrote the prescriptions, it's unclear whether people took the drugs for weight loss or diabetes.
Still, states dispensing the most prescriptions for Ozempic and others have high obesity rates ranging between 30 to 45% of the population. They also have elevated diabetes mortality rates. This may be a rough indication that doctors in these regions are prescribing weight loss/diabetes drugs to people who could benefit from them the most.