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Three Key Takeaways From Ozempic and Zepbound Executives on Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution’ Special

Oprah Winfrey’s latest special, “Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution” aired Monday night on ABC. In the new hour-long program, the legendary host and producer discusses her journey using weight loss drugs and chats with experts about who are the best candidates to use them.

Mounjaro and Ozempic, medications intended to treat type 2 diabetes, aren’t FDA approved to treat obesity; however, they have been prescribed off-label for weight loss management. Their key ingredients, semaglutide and tirzepatide, respectively, are FDA approved for weight loss under the brand names Wegovy and Zepbound.

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Amy Kane and Oprah Winfrey on ABC's "An Oprah Special: Shame Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution."AMY KANE, OPRAH WINFREY
Amy Kane and Oprah Winfrey

According to Negelle Morris, senior vice president, cardiometabolic sales, of Novo Nordisk, the Danish corporation behind Ozempic and Wegovy, the proliferation of these drugs signifies changing attitudes toward obesity.

“It was actually over two decades ago that Novo Nordisk made a stand that obesity is a disease, and that the shame that society keeps on people who are dealing with excess weight and obesity needs to stop,” Morris told Winfrey. “As someone who struggles with excess weight and obesity, I have to remind myself constantly that this is not a personal failing.”

Since hitting the market, the demand for all four drugs has drastically increased, leading to shortages. Rhonda Pacheco, group vice president of diabetes and obesity at Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Mounjaro and Zepbound, called their popularity “unprecedented.”

“I think people are really understanding that [obesity] is a disease, and they’re seeing treatments that are showing this efficacy,” Pacheco told Winfrey. “So they’re going out, and they’re speaking to their physicians.”

AN OPRAH SPECIAL: SHAME, BLAME AND THE WEIGHT LOSS REVOLUTION - Oprah Winfrey hosts a sit-down conversation around the radical impact of prescription weight loss medications in the primetime event, “An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution,” airing MONDAY, MARCH 18 (8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC and the next day on Hulu. The special delves into the prevailing questions and concerns surrounding the impact on our health care, economy, lifestyle and culture.(Disney/Eric McCandless)
DR. AMANDA VELAZQUEZ, DR. W. SCOTT BUTSCH, OPRAH WINFREY

Still, access to drugs like Wegovy and Zepbound can be limited: while they may be covered by insurance, purchasing them out-of-pocket can cost upward of $1,000 for a monthly supply. Morris speculates that this is, in part, due to physicians not being properly informed about obesity as a disease and its treatment using weight loss drugs.

“It’s a healthy discourse,” Morris said. “It’s important to have that discussion. So access is complex, just like the disease itself is complex. The obesity medications are not covered to the same extent, and that’s why that out-of-pocket cost is what it is.”

“An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution” is available to stream on Hulu now.

Oprah Winfrey’s Red Carpet Style Through the Years: Photos

Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham during "Good Morning, Vietnam" Los Angeles Premiere at Cineramadome Theater in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham during "Good Morning, Vietnam" Los Angeles Premiere at Cineramadome Theater in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

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Launch Gallery: Oprah Winfrey's Red Carpet Style Through the Years: Photos

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