"Anti-Hunger Games": Zepbound Supplies At Pharmacies Dwindle As Obese Patients Rage

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Mar 30, 2024 - 03:05 PM

Obese Americans have flocked to weight loss drugs, such as Novo Nordisk's Wegovy and Eli Lilly's Zepbound. Surging demand for both drugs has led to shortages across the country. 

Bloomberg spoke with nine pharmacists and technicians at CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart in six states, who said Zepbound was on backorder.

Shannon Lucero failed to fill her Zepbound prescription at eight pharmacies in San Diego, California. One pharmacy responded and said the GLP-1 drug was out of stock until the end of the first week of April. 

In Monroe, Michigan, Rachael Altenburg spent days searching for pharmacies to fill her order for the weight loss drug. 

Angela Fitch, who operates an obesity clinic in Boston, said the supply situation for GLP-1 drugs is painful for patients and doctors due to limited supply and soaring demand. 

"Patients are mad at my staff, my staff are upset," Fitch said in an interview, adding one of her patients had to spend the day and call pharmacies around the Boston metro area, and after hours of calling, finally found one that could fill her prescription. 

"It's like The Hunger Games," she said, adding, "Well, actually more like the anti-Hunger Games."

Goldman analysts recently told clients that upwards of 15 million Americans could be on GLP-1 drugs by the end of the decade. Other Wall Street analysts forecast the weight loss drug market could be worth $100 billion by 2030. 

Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have communicated to investors that production of their GLP-1 drugs will be ramped up after a round of new investments into production facilities this year. 

"We cannot supply to an uptake that just continues growing," Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen told investors during a conference call earlier this month. He said lower-strength starter doses for the US market are necessary to safeguard supplies for current patients. 

Despite patient reports and pharmacies telling Bloomberg that Zepbound supplies are either low on stock or out, an FDA spokesperson said, based on the current information from Lilly, "there is currently adequate supply" of the weight loss drug. 

It seems like the American healthcare system's only solution to obesity is a miracle drug. After all, there's no money for big pharma and doctors to tell obese folks that eating healthy and working out is a safe alternative to taking drugs.