Pills, ad infinitum (lithub.com).
by Dan Burns
Aug 6, 2021, 10:30 AM

What will the advertising-pharma complex do with the new, “can’t miss” weight loss drug?

That’s right, the ultimate “blockbuster drug,” that could dwarf even “Vitamin V” in terms of “impact,” may have arrived.

Scientists and doctors have praised the active ingredient in both drugs, known as semaglutide. They’ve gone as far as to call it a “game-changer” that could usher in a new era of obesity treatment, both because it’s helped people lose considerably more weight than past remedies and because it seems to work on several aspects of our biology linked to obesity, like our metabolism.

Yet, there remain many hurdles standing in the way of its potential, from whether insurance carriers will even cover it to the unknown long-term risks of a treatment that’s likely to be needed for a lifetime. Additionally, some activists and experts question the inherent value of antiobesity drugs and worry about the floodgates of medical fatshaming and pharmaceutical profiteering that Wegovy’s approval will open up.

I watch relatively little television, and I nonetheless recall plenty of Big Pharma ad campaigns. Psoriasis, narcolepsy, “low-T”…I’m not discounting the seriousness of the illnesses, for those who have them, but I’m sure I’m not alone in finding plenty of the commercials to be ridiculous. (Perhaps you know that the U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries that allow direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising.) My vote for the low point goes to one that had a guy who looked to be up around 60 (same as me, now, in fact), who presumably had had his issues with testosterone “deficiency” fixed with whatever pills, first surfing with a bunch of 20-somethings, then playing in their rock and roll band. He would have been making quite a fool of himself, in real life. (That’s my take, anyway. Perhaps I’m being too judgmental.)

I therefore speculate with considerable trepidation, regarding what they may try with this new stuff. Presumably they’ll avoid overt fatshaming, for fear of a backlash. (It certainly won’t be because of concern that the “obesity epidemic” is sensationalized and overblown.) But they’ll look to push what emotional buttons they can.

As to whether anything’s going to happen in the near future, to start dealing properly with Big Pharma, it’s looking highly unlikely.

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