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1 in 8 adults in the US has taken Ozempic or another GLP-1 drug, KFF survey finds

About 1 in 8 adults in the United States has used a GLP-1 drug like Ozempic or Mounjaro at some point in their life, and half of them – about 6% of adults, or more than 15 million people – are currently using a prescription, according to new survey data from KFF.

The US Food and Drug Administration has reported shortages of the GLP-1 medications Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro at various dosages over the past year as drugmakers have raced to keep up with skyrocketing demand. Last week, Novo Nordisk said that at least 25,000 people in the US are starting its drug Wegovy each week – five times more than were able to start the medicine each week in December.

According to the new survey, most adults who have used these drugs have done so to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. More than 40% of respondents who have diabetes and about a quarter of those who have heart disease said they have used GLP-1 drugs.

But about 2 in 5 adults used GLP-1 drugs solely to lose weight, the KFF poll found.

Neither Ozempic nor Mounjaro is approved for weight loss specifically; the FDA greenlit them to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017 and 2022, respectively. But doctors commonly use them off-label for weight loss. Wegovy, which was approved in 2021 for obesity, contains the same key ingredient as Ozempic, called semaglutide, while Mounjaro uses a slightly different one, tirzepatide.

Overall, adults ages 50 to 64 were most likely to have used GLP-1 drugs, but younger adults were more likely to use them solely for weight loss, according to the KFF survey.

Medicare prohibits the coverage of prescription weight-loss drugs, and only 1% of seniors said that they have used a GLP-1 drug solely for weight loss, according to the KFF survey. But most adults – more than 60% – say that Medicare policy should be changed to include coverage for these drugs when prescribed for weight loss.

Still, regardless of insurance coverage, most adults who have used GLP-1 drugs said it was difficult to afford them, the KFF poll found.

A month’s supply of GLP-1 drugs can cost about $1,000, and last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders launched an investigation into the “outrageously high prices” that manufacturers charge.

Amid high costs and limited supply, some adults may seek alternatives to the highly sought-after drugs. Last year, the FDA warned against compounded versions of semaglutide that combine, mix or alter ingredients in ways that are not regulated or approved.

“Patients should only obtain drugs containing semaglutide with a prescription from a licensed health care provider, and only obtain medicines from state-licensed pharmacies or outsourcing facilities registered with FDA,” the agency said, citing reports of adverse events in people who used compounded semaglutide.

The vast majority of adults who have used GLP-1 drugs – about 80% – said they got the drugs or a prescription from a primary care doctor or a specialist, according to the KFF survey. But about 11% said they got them from an online provider or website, and 10% said they got them from a medical spa or aesthetic medical center.

The KFF survey findings are based on responses that were collected from a nationally representative sample of nearly 1,500 adults during the last week of April.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

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