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Semaglutide, also sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy, is an antidiabetic medication used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes that achieved massive virality in late 2022 and early 2023 as a weight loss medication. Rumored to have been used by Kim Kardashian and Mindy Kaling, among other celebrities, the drug achieved popularity as a weight loss method thanks to viral TikToks, with the trend resulting in its shortages and sparking controversy.
On December 5th, 2017, the FDA approved Semaglutide, sold under the brand name Ozempic, among others, for use in patients with type 2 diabetes. The medication is a GLP-1 receptor agonist, which increases insulin secretion, increases blood sugar disposal and improves glycemic control. The immediate effect is lowered appetite and slowed digestion in the stomach, resulting in a decrease in food consumption and weight loss.
In 2019, a TV commercial for Ozempic started airing (shown below).
Ozempic, and another Semaglutide drug, Wegovy, started gaining online recognition as a way to lose weight in the spring of 2022, with the trend spreading mainly through TikTok where users advised others to use it for weight loss purposes. For example, on May 9th, 2022, TikToker @calledhercalder posted a video about being prescribed the drug for weight loss (shown below). The video gained over 235,000 likes in 10 months.
On May 17th, 2022, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration issued a joint statement about the unexpected increase in consumer demand for the drug. On May 31st, The Guardian reported that Ozempic's virality on TikTok caused a shortage of the drug.
The drug's popularity further increased in September 2022 following rumors that Kim and Khloe Kardashian both used it to lose weight.
The prominence of the drug saw continuous growth online as more users shared videos about it on TikTok and posted about it on Twitter, Instagram and other sites. For example, on October 13th, 2023, TikToker and plastic surgeon @dr.90210 posted a video about the drug, which received over 130,000 likes in five months (shown below, left). On January 1st, 2023, TikToker @karolinaochoaa posted a video that garnered over 183,000 views in four months (shown below, right).
On February 9th, 2023, The Cut published an article about the drug's use as an appetite suppressant.
On March 12th, following the 95th Academy Awards, the suspected use of Semaglutide by Mindy Kaling and other celebrities became a viral topic of jokes and discussions on social media (example tweets shown below).
 Wikipedia – Semaglutide
 TikTok – @calledhercalder
 Australian Government – Joint statement: Prioritisation of semaglutide (Ozempic) supply for people with type 2 diabetes during shortage
 The Guardian – Shortage of diabetes medication Ozempic after TikTok users promote drug for weight loss
 Twitter – @Hufflepuff_RPh
 TikTok – @karolinaochoaa
 The Cut – HEALTH FEB. 27, 2023
Life After Food? A diabetes drug has become an off-label appetite suppressant, changing the definition of being thin and what it takes to get there.
 Twitter – @e_alexjung
 Twitter – @sassyblackdiva
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Mar 28, 2023 at 03:50PM EDT
Mar 28, 2023 at 02:46PM EDT
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