Ozempic takes center stage at the Oscars, but perhaps not in the way Novo Nordisk might have wanted

Last year, it was a slap that shook the Oscars. This year, it’s a jab: a “skinny jab,” to be exact, as Ozempic gets its name in lights.

Well, not quite: Comedian and TV host Jimmy Kimmel tapped the phenomenon that is Ozempic, Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug that has increasingly been used off label as a weight loss aid, for one of his central jokes.

“Everybody looks so great,” he told the audience at Sunday’s gala event. “When I look around this room, I can’t help but wonder, ‘Is Ozempic right for me?’”

Novo Nordisk would, of course, prefer people to take Wegovy, the slightly different version of Ozempic, which both contain the active ingredient semaglutide and in both cases help patients lose excess weight. That’s because Wegovy is the only drug from Novo actually licensed to help patients lose weight. The upsurge in demand for Ozempic can also cause supply issues, hitting the diabetes patients who actually need it while taking away sales from Wegovy. 

But Ozempic is having a strange cultural moment, seeing celebrities publicly speak out about using the drug to help lose weight, being prescribed by their doctors off-label, given that it doesn’t have an FDA license for weight loss.

A Novo Nordisk spokesperson recently told Fierce Pharma Marketing that when it comes to people taking Ozempic for weight loss, “while we recognize that some healthcare providers may be prescribing Ozempic for patients whose goal is to lose weight, Novo Nordisk does not promote, suggest, or encourage off-label use of our medicines.”