‘Let’s get serious’: Eli Lilly slams Hollywood’s Ozempic obsession ahead of Oscars

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‘Let’s get serious’: Eli Lilly slams Hollywood’s Ozempic obsession ahead of Oscars:-Eli Lilly, a big drug company, is finally saying something about how obsessed Hollywood is with Ozempic.

In an ad that came out Thursday, the company criticizes people who prescribe or use drugs to lose weight without being diagnosed with obesity. The ad starts running a few days before the 96th Academy Awards, which is a huge event in Hollywood where everyone is always talking about celebs and their bodies.

‘Let’s get serious’: Eli Lilly slams Hollywood’s Ozempic obsession ahead of Oscars

The company that makes tirzepatide, which is sold under the brand name Zepbound, was cleared by the FDA in November to help people who are overweight. The rival drug semaglutide is more commonly known by its brand name, Ozempic. Novo Nordisk makes Ozempic for people with diabetes. A stronger version of the drug, called Wegovy, is also sold by the same company to treat fat.

James Zervios, vice president and chief of staff for the Obesity Action Coalition, praised the drug company for speaking out against drug abuse. However, he said the spot didn’t address the big problem that most obese Americans have getting these expensive drugs.

Eli Lilly also released a second ad on Thursday. It was black and white and talked about the social stigma of being overweight. The CEO of the company, Dave Ricks, said this was part of an effort to connect with patients.

In an exclusive talk with USA TODAY, he said, “We know that people need these medicines, that’s why we made them.” “Let’s get serious about what these medicines are for.”

Ricks thought that this ad was speaking up for people who need the drug.

There were, however, people who thought the commercial used language from fat activists and the body freedom movement to promote a weight loss drug.

“It feels sneaky and sneaky,” said Tigress Osborn, who is the executive director of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. “I need to see more than one commercial before I believe Eli Lilly really cares about what’s best for me.”

‘Medicine never meant for them’

Eli Lilly’s new ad starts with a man rolling out the red carpet in a gold dress that sparkles.

A voiceover says, “Some people have been taking medicine that wasn’t meant for them for the wedding dress or tux.” “But that isn’t the point.”

The company’s message is clear: this new group of weight loss drugs is for people who have been identified with obesity. About 42% of adults in the U.S. are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

'Let's get serious': Eli Lilly slams Hollywood's Ozempic obsession ahead of Oscars

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There isn’t any talk of this in the commercial, but patient supporters say Lilly and other drug companies are ignoring a much bigger problem. The medicine costs more than $1,000 for a month’s supply and is only covered by 25% of insurance plans, so most Americans can’t afford it. Medicare and Medicaid also don’t pay for the drugs.

A lot of people say that those prices make it sound like only a famous person could buy them. Zervios from OAC says drug companies should lower the prices of their medicines, which is what Ricks thinks should be done.

His words, “That’s an ask that we will keep making until the price of these medicines goes down.” Both Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk give money to and work with the OAC.

Drug shortages have happened because of high demand, making it hard for most people to get weight loss drugs like tirzepatide and semaglutide. In February, Ricks said that there was no quick fix for supply problems, but he thought the situation would get better over time.

‘Motivation matters’

Osborn says the new ads make the weight stigma worse by using messages that encourage body acceptance for a drug that “shrinks” bodies that are overweight. Ricks says the ads are trying to address and reduce weight stigma.

She said that groups like NAAFA have been talking about the weight bias in medical offices for decades, which has kept people from going to the doctor, which has made their health worse.

Now, though, “one of the main places of shame” is using that language to promote drugs and surgeries.

“Up until the part where you sell drugs to people, that black-and-white ad could have come from NAAFA,” Osborn said.

In 2013, the American Medical Association declared obesity an illness. However, many body positivity activists and groups like NAAFA say that being overweight doesn’t in and of itself cause health problems.

Osborn said that Eli Lilly is not the first drug company to use messages about body love. In fact, they are just now catching up. Olympic sponsor Novo Nordisk made a digital series called “It’s Bigger Than Me” in which paid spokespersons talk about their own weight loss journeys.

Osborn stated, “I’d like to see anybody who sees (the Eli Lilly) commercial to go, ‘What is the motivation of this commercial?’ because the motivation matters.”

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