Spending on advertising for drugs targeting obesity and diabetes is skyrocketing this year, with drug manufacturers dedicating close to $500 million to these promotions.

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In the United States, pharmaceutical companies have significantly increased their advertising spending on obesity and diabetes treatments, reaching nearly $500 million in the first seven months of this year, marking a 20% rise compared to the same period last year. This data, sourced from advertising analytics firm MediaRadar, underscores the competitive rush among companies to attract new customers, particularly following the heightened interest in Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Ozempic and its weight loss counterpart, Wegovy.

These medications, categorized as GLP-1s, have experienced a surge in demand due to their effectiveness in aiding patients in shedding excess weight by mimicking a hormone produced in the gut that suppresses appetite. During the last quarter of 2022, healthcare providers in the U.S. wrote over 9 million prescriptions for Ozempic, Wegovy, and other drugs targeting obesity and diabetes, reflecting a remarkable 300% increase compared to early 2020.

MediaRadar’s data compilation encompassed ad spending across various platforms, including national TV broadcasts, print publications, newspapers, websites, and social media, spanning from January 1, 2022, to July 31, 2023. Among the prominently advertised drugs were Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, Wegovy, and diabetes pill Rybelsus, along with Boehringer Ingelheim’s diabetes treatment Jardiance, which is poised to enter drug price negotiations with the federal Medicare program.

During the first seven months of this year, the combined ad spending for obesity and diabetes drugs, including treatments like Ozempic, Wegovy, Rybelsus, and Jardiance, reached a substantial $358 million, constituting approximately three-quarters of the total expenditure in this category, as indicated by the data.

Notably, the ad spending for Ozempic experienced a significant increase, reaching $120 million during this period, marking a 23% rise from the corresponding timeframe in the previous year. MediaRadar has pointed out that the growing popularity of Ozempic has had a positive ripple effect on similar medications, symbolizing the proverbial “a rising tide lifts all boats” scenario, as emphasized by MediaRadar CEO Todd Krizelman.

Furthermore, Wegovy has also made a substantial impact, accounting for over $20 million in ad spending within the first seven months of the year. The data suggests a surge in spending from April to July, indicating its growing prominence. However, it’s worth noting that in May, Novo Nordisk temporarily paused some of its key promotional advertising for Wegovy, particularly on local and national TV platforms.

MediaRadar emphasized that a significant portion of spending on Wegovy was directed toward digital advertising, including online video campaigns, reflecting the evolving landscape of pharmaceutical marketing strategies.

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