Survey: 1 in 8 Adults Have Utilized a GLP-1 Medication, 6% Currently Are

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According to the results, approximately 82% of adults said they have heard at least a little about GLP-1 medications and 32% said they have heard a lot.

Approximately 1 in 8 adults have taken a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) antagonist, with 6% saying they are currently utilizing the drug, according to a survey from Kaiser Family Foundation.1

man preparing Semaglutide Ozempic injection control blood sugar levels | Image Credit: myskin - stock.adobe.com

Image Credit: myskin - stock.adobe.com

According to an article published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal, the search popularity for semaglutide (Ozempic; Novo Nordisk) grew rapidly from March 2018 to February 2023. The prescription of semaglutide increased as well, from approximately 596 individuals using the drug in 2019 to 22,891 in 2022, according to results of a study in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. Further, use of semaglutide (Wegovy; Novo Nordisk) increased from 989 individuals in 2021 to 2992 in 2022.2,3

“I think from that beginning you've seen steps forward with Lily coming into the market, with Mounjaro and Zepbound, or even prior to that, the second generation from Novo Nordisk of Ozempic [or] Wegovy, and explicit weight loss approvals [and] now even additional things like cardiac benefits being added into the labeling,” James Shehan, JD, chair of FDA Regulatory Practice at Lowenstein Sandler, said in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “So I think the combination of greater effectiveness, expanded indications, and kind of more remarkably, this kind of mania that has occurred in the last, say, 2 years about the products, which is somewhat remarkable to me, because it was there in plain sight in 2010, and even before that, in the scientific data.”4

In the new survey, approximately 82% of adults said they have heard at least a little about GLP-1 medications and 32% said they have heard a lot, increasing from about 7 in 10 adults who had heard a little about the medication and 1 in 5 who had heard a lot in July 2023. When the investigators specifically analyzed those who have been told by a physician they have diabetes, heart disease, or overweight or obesity, approximately 45%, 41%, and 42%, respectively, said they have heard a lot about these drugs.1

When stratified by age, those who are older said they have heard a lot about the drugs, compared with one-third and 1 in 6 adults aged 30 to 49 years and aged 18 to 29 years, respectively. When stratified by income, adults whose household income is $90,000 or greater are more likely to have heard a lot about GLP-1 medications compared with those who have a lower household income.1

Furthermore, investigators found that Black adults are somewhat more likely to report taking GLP-1 medication (18%) compared with White individuals (10%) and Hispanic individuals (13%). For adults who have been taking a GLP-1 medication, approximately 62% took it to treat a chronic condition, such as diabetes and heart disease. Approximately 39% took it solely to treat a chronic condition and 24% took it to treat both a chronic condition and for weight loss. About 1 in 4 adults in the study have been taking a GLP-1 solely to lose weight, according to the investigators.1

Recently, there have been studies showing that GLP-1 medication has benefits beyond diabetes and weight loss, including an approval for Wegovy for the reduction of the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack, and stroke for patients with cardiovascular disease and either obesity or overweight.4 The medications have also been studied and shown to benefit kidney outcomes for individuals with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease as well as reduce the apnea-hypopnea index for individuals with obstructive sleep apnea.5-7

In the survey, the investigators said that of the adults taking a GLP-1 medication, approximately 8 in 10 have reported getting prescriptions from their primary care physician or a specialist, but 11%, 10%, and 2% reported getting them from an online provider or website, a medical spa or aesthetic medical center, or somewhere else, respectively.1

Key Takeaways

  1. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll indicates a significant rise in public awareness (82%) of GLP-1 medications, with 6% reporting current use.
  2. Semaglutide use has skyrocketed, with prescriptions increasing from 596 in 2019 to over 22,000 in 2022.
  3. GLP-1 medications are now approved for weight loss and show promise in treating heart disease, kidney disease, and sleep apnea.

Pharmacy Times previously reported in an article that the FDA, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk have spoken out against the use of “med spas” and “impure” versions of compounded medications, where some have been reported to contain salt (a different active ingredient compared to the approved formulation), due to either inappropriate use of the medications or for the dangers they pose to patients.8

“What [pharmacists] really want to see is safe use of these drugs appropriately because they do have such power to help people, and I think that's what pharmacists are interested in. They want to see the regulatory compliance. I think to understand these medications, you need to understand that they've been a long time coming,” Donna Ryan, MD, Professor Emerita at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, said in a podcast episode by Pharmacy Times. “We have the opportunity to change the way we're managing our chronic diseases, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, sleep apnea. These conditions are filling our offices, and we have the ability to change that disease paradigm.”9

References
  1. Montero A, Sparks G, Presiado M, Hamel L. KFF Health Tracking Poll May 2024: The Public’s Use and Views of GLP-1 Drugs. KFF. May 10, 2024. Accessed May 13, 2024. https://www.kff.org/health-costs/poll-finding/kff-health-tracking-poll-may-2024-the-publics-use-and-views-of-glp-1-drugs/
  2. Han SH, Safeek R, Ockerman K, et al. Public Interest in the Off-Label Use of Glucagon-like Peptide 1 Agonists (Ozempic) for Cosmetic Weight Loss: A Google Trends Analysis. Aesthet Surg J. 2023;44(1):60-67. doi:10.1093/asj/sjad211
  3. Watanabe JH, Kwon J, Nan B, Reikes A. Trends in glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist use, 2014 to 2022. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2024;64(1):133-138. doi:10.1016/j.japh.2023.10.002
  4. Expert: Exploring the Growing Market of GLP-1 Medications. Pharmacy Times. April 5, 2024. Accessed May 13, 2024. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/expert-exploring-the-growing-market-of-glp-1-medications
  5. Gallagher A. FDA Approves Semaglutide for New Indication Involving Cardiovascular Disease. Pharmacy Times. March 8, 2024. Accessed May 13, 2024. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/fda-approves-semaglutide-for-new-indication-involving-cardiovascular-disease
  6. Gallagher A. FLOW Trial Results Demonstrate Positive Kidney Outcomes With Semaglutide. Pharmacy Times. March 5, 2024. Accessed May 13, 2024. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/flow-trial-results-demonstrate-positive-kidney-outcomes-with-semaglutide
  7. Gallagher A. Tirzepatide Demonstrates Reduction in Sleep Apnea-Relate Events. Pharmacy Times. April 18, 2024. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/tirzepatide-demonstrates-reduction-in-sleep-apnea-relate-events
  8. Gallagher A. Compounded, Counterfeit Semaglutide Poses Severe Risk to Patients. Pharmacy Times. May 2, 2024. Accessed May 13, 2024. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/compounded-counterfeit-semaglutide-poses-severe-risk-to-patients
  9. Pharmacy Focus: Limited Series: Celebrity Endorsements in Ozempic. Pharmacy Times. March 13, 2024. Accessed May 13, 2024. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/pharmacy-focus-limited-series-celebrity-endorsements-in-ozempic
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