1 in 8 adults in the US has taken Ozempic or another GLP-1 drug, KFF survey finds

David J. Phillip/AP

Most adults who used GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic did so to manage chronic conditions, according to a new survey.


In the United States, about 1 in 8 adults have used a GLP-1 drug like Ozempic or Mounjaro at some point in their life, and half of them – about 6% of adults, or more than 15 million people – are currently using a prescription. , according to new survey data from KFF.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported shortages of the GLP-1 drugs Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro at various strengths over the past year, as drugmakers raced to meet growing demand. Last week, Novo Nordisk said that in the United States at least 25,000 people were starting to take the Wegovy drug each week, five times more than the number of people who could start taking it each week in December.

According to the new survey, most adults who used these drugs did so to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. More than 40% of respondents with diabetes and about a quarter of those with heart disease reported using GLP-1 medications.

But about 2 in 5 adults used GLP-1 drugs solely for weight loss, according to the KFF poll.

Neither Ozempic nor Mounjaro are specifically approved for weight loss; the FDA gave them the green light to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017 and 2022, respectively. But doctors generally use them off-label to lose weight. Wegovy, which was approved in 2021 for obesity, contains the same key ingredient as Ozempic, called semaglutide, while Mounjaro uses a slightly different one, tirzepatide.

Overall, adults aged 50 to 64 were most likely to have used GLP-1 drugs, but younger adults were more likely to use them solely for weight loss, according to the KFF survey.

Medicare prohibits coverage of prescription weight-loss drugs, and only 1 percent of seniors reported using a GLP-1 drug solely for weight loss, according to the KFF survey. But most adults — more than 60 percent — say Medicare policy should be changed to include coverage for these drugs when prescribed for weight loss.

Yet regardless of insurance coverage, most adults who used GLP-1 drugs said it was difficult to afford them, according to the KFF poll.

A monthly supply of GLP-1 drugs can cost around $1,000, and last month, Senator Bernie Sanders launched an investigation into the “shockingly high prices” charged by manufacturers.

Faced with high costs and limited supply, some adults may seek alternatives to highly sought-after medications. Last year, the FDA warned of compounded versions of semaglutide that combine, mix or modify ingredients in a way that is not regulated or approved.

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“Patients should obtain medications containing semaglutide only with a prescription from a licensed health care provider, and only from state-licensed pharmacies or FDA-registered contracting facilities,” a statement said. the agency said, citing reports of adverse reactions in people who used the compound semaglutide. .

The vast majority of adults who used GLP-1 medications — about 80% — reported receiving the medications or a prescription from a primary care physician or specialist, according to the KFF survey. But about 11% said they got them from an online supplier or website, and 10% said they got them from a medical spa or aesthetic medicine center.

The KFF survey results are based on responses collected from a nationally representative sample of nearly 1,500 adults during the last week of April.

CNN’s Meg Tirrell and Tami Luhby contributed to this report.

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