It’s been quite some time since I wrote a blog – for most of this year I’ve been probing into the murky underworld of Big Pharma! This has been a HUGE sinkhole for time and emotional spoons, but alongside fabulous Fat Studies scholars Andrea Bombak & Patty Thille, we managed to publish in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, protesting the new “Canadian Adult O*esity Clinical Practice Guidelines”, a document so riddled with conflicts of interest with the weight loss industry (particularly Novo Nordisk) that it fails even basic standards for trustworthy guideline generation. Predictably, the Guidelines dovetail seamlessly with Novo’s global marketing aims – to get “O*esity” recognised as a disease, to advocate for “medical management” of the “disease” (aka, buy our drugs!), and to position weight stigma not as a social justice issue, but as a ‘barrier to treatment access’.

A blueprint of Novo Nordisk’s plan to “create the market” for their weight loss drugs- this is a slide from their Powerpoint Presentation to The O*esity Collective (now vanished from their website)

Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk are a global machine of gargantuan proportions, and unfortunately, things just got hotter. I’ve surfaced to share the sad news that on 1 September 2022 Australia’s regulatory body, the TGA, approved Wegovy, Novo’s new weight loss drug. Wegovy is a high dose version of Ozempic, their diabetes medication, and it’s been massively hyped as an alleged ‘game changer’ for the weight loss drug market.

Wegovy gained FDA approval in the USA in June 2021 in what they proudly described as the “fastest launch ever”. Given the dastardly history of weight loss drugs, bragging about how quickly you can get them to market really says something about the motive$ of Novo.

Almost immediately after Wegovy was prematurely ejaculated across America, at extortionate prices, global supplies of Ozempic began mysteriously drying up. In February 2022, Novo announced intentions to stop shipping Ozempic to Japan. From May 2022, news stories about Australian Ozempic supply shortages began popping up. The shortage has been widely reported in the Australian media as the fault of greedy ‘Tiktok influencers’ using Ozempic ‘off-label’ as a weight loss drug, but this is just distracting bullshit.

The truth is, for several years now, Novo have been methodically paying off every single O*esity organisation, researcher, “patient group”, and physician on the planet, providing ‘education courses‘ (aka advertorials), funding and creating industry-friendly ‘consensus statements‘, and generally fluffing the entire weight loss industry in breathless anticipation of their so-called miracle drug. The O*esity industry is now utterly bursting with the need to “treat patients”, awash in Novo funding, and ready for action!

Endocrinologists in particular are excited about how much cash “patient care” they can make

Novo have blatantly stated that the O*esity market is way bigger than the diabetes one, and they’re hellbent on becoming the Next Big Thing in both. But in spite of Wegovy’s Blitzkrieg launch, Novo have proven woefully unprepared to actually cough up the goods. The CEO and other Novo insiders have pleaded ignorance, claiming that they didn’t anticipate such strong demand, which sounds like more actual bullshit to me. Apparently they relied on just one factory to make Wegovy, and their supply chain completely imploded in December 2021 after their Belgian factory was shut down due to dodgy manufacturing practices.

Novo are now planning to develop ‘in-house manufacturing factories‘ (thus pocketing more $$!), which are allegedly going to be operational early in 2023 (they’ve even snapped up an old Purdue pharma factory, ain’t that poetic).

It’s interesting to note that whilst Australia struggles to deal with a massive Ozempic shortage, reportedly impacting 125 000 Australians with diabetes, over in the more lucrative American market, Novo are bragging about their success in being able continue to ‘service’ their brand new, extremely profitable Wegovy customers – all 125 000 of them. Considering that Wegovy is chemically the same drug as Ozempic (Semaglutide), I smell a rat.

It’s utterly outrageous that Novo Nordisk are not being held to account with their treatment of people with diabetes. It’s unconscionable to impact supply of an effective diabetes medication in order to “service” a more lucrative weight loss market. Australian media’s naive focus on social media – not Big Pharma – highlights how easy it is for these weight loss wolves to pull the wool over our eyes.

Media focus on Australian Ozempic shortages has also played right into Novo’s marketing strategy to “create legitimacy and urgency for the medical management” of larger people. The Ozempic media circus occurred during the period when Novo’s Wegovy TGA submission was awaiting approval. In a stunning illustration of the diabolical workings of industry influence, a joint press release from The O*esity Collective and the Weight Issues Network (learn more about these 2 organisations and their cosy relationship with both each other and Novo) appeared in May 2022 and was disseminated as ‘news’. Striking a consistent tone of condescending pity, the piece defends the practice of Australian doctors prescribing Ozempic off-label for weight loss and pleads for more medical ‘management’ of o*esity. Because it’s a ‘chronic condition’ requiring ‘healthcare’. A layer of faux outrage about weight stigma is used to lubricate their real message: fat people are sick, and need drugs!

With the TGA granting approval for Wegovy, it seems that Novo’s cunning strategies have paid off. But we’re now in an extremely awkward moment, as there’s actually none available, and Novo are being coy about exactly when they’ll be able to supply it. As all of us who lived through the Great Toilet Paper Shortage from early Covid will remember, nothing creates demand like inadequate supply. Novo has the whole planet on the hook like GOT fans hankering for Season 8.

There are many more layers to this story. I’m so fired up about Novo Nordisk and its Evil Monopoly that I have released a two-part series on my All Fired Up! podcast with fellow warriors, anti-diet dietitian and weight science slayer Dr Fiona Willer and fat activist, author and caller of Bigpharma Bullshit Ragen Chastain. In Part 1 we unpack the insidious history of weight loss drugs in general, and in Part 2 we walk you step by step through the fetid cesspool of Novo Nordisk, Wegovy, and their inglorious attempts to hijack science in the name of profit. All is not what is seems: something is ROTTEN in the State of Denmark!

This was an EPIC two part deep-dive, and I’ve been preparing for this ALL YEAR, so be prepared for a really wild ride!

Make sure you’re subscribed to the All Fired Up podcast, so you don’t miss out when future episodes drop. And  if you want to refresh your memory, listen to our previous two episodes – Inside The O*esity Collective and O*esity Australia…if You Are Listening.