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Ozempic's weighty impact on Denmark

By Eleanor Gil Sept. 28, 2023 Picture a pill that can drastically alter health, promising a direct shortcut not only to blood sugar control and no diabetes but dramatic weight loss as well. The Ozempic pill is a drug gone viral for weight loss despite its intended purpose as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, with 42% of medical practitioners having received requests for Ozempic from patients without diabetes, as reported by The Intake, a healthcare news site. Developed by Danish company Novo Nordisk, Ozempic has engendered an immense economic boom for Denmark but has also generated severe issues such as medication shortage and drug misuse.

Novo Nordisk has not only surpassed other major Danish companies such as LEGO and Carlsberg in terms of economic impact on its Nordic homeland, but also surpassed Denmark itself. According to NPR, Novo Nordisk’s current valuation is $419 billion, greater than the Danish GDP of $406 billion, which has heavily impacted multiple aspects of Denmark’s economy. For one, the Danish currency, krone, is increasing rapidly in valuation because of Ozempic’s massive conversion of export revenue in U.S. dollars to krone—according to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. contributed to 65% of global Ozempic sales in 2022, causing a substantial influx of foreign currency.

As a consequence of the boosted economy, interest and mortgage rates have eased in Denmark, and there have been more lucrative domestic investments which expanded employment opportunities, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, Ozempic’s massive impact also raises concerns. If the company fails, Denmark is likely to experience rapid devaluation of its currency, which would pose a huge risk to the Danish economy—much like Nokia, a Finnish telecom company. Nokia had completely dominated the country’s economy in the early 2000s but eventually declined, resulting in a decade of economic stagnation.

Not only does Ozempic’s popularity put the economy at risk, but people with legitimate need for the drug also struggle with accessing the medication. In fact, according to The Intake, 52% of Americans with diabetes say it has been much harder to find medication to treat their condition due to recent interest in drugs like Ozempic for weight loss especially; 15% of Americans have used Ozempic for weight loss, while 47% know someone who has.

“Ozempic should be reserved for people who truly need it. The United States needs to follow the European Union’s policies and restrict Ozempic’s use only for people with diabetes,” Senior Justin Lai said.

Daniel Choi Art

Ozempic is taken through injections to synthetically produce insulin in the body and lower blood sugar, slowing digestion and producing the side effect of rapid weight loss. An alternative to Ozempic is Wegovy by Novo Nordisk, which, similar to Ozempic, mimics the action of the gut hormone GLP-1 that is released after eating to slow digestion. While these alternatives exist, people with diabetes often spend hours trying to find nearby pharmacies with their Ozempic prescriptions in stock, as stated

by the Wall Street Journal. This shortage is significant—Ozempic is meant for people in life-threatening situations, but progress reverts immediately if the drug is dropped. In other words, it has been difficult for these people to keep their blood sugar levels low and limit their risk of complications like damage to the kidney and blood vessels.


“Doctors should give priority to Ozempic use among people with diabetes as diabetes is a serious health condition. However, there should not be regulation on the pill’s use as it can be used to help people maintain a healthier weight,” Senior Kristie Sue said.

In addition, many celebrity figures, including Elon Musk and Chelsea Handler, have endorsed or mentioned Ozempic for weight loss on their personal posts, helping the drug explode in the media and further contributing to the aforementioned issues. Such notice in the media has propelled consumers to try the drug for themselves, which can in turn perpetuate existing cultural obsessions with diet and physique.

Although the side effects of Ozempic have the potential to help many people with weight loss, the fact remains that it was created to help those with type 2 diabetes, a life-threatening health condition. Moving forward, the possibility remains of spearheading regulations for Ozempic.

 

About the Contributors

Eleanor Gil

staff writer

Eleanor Gil is currently a sophomore at Leland High and an enthusiastic writer for The Charger Account. She spends her free time cultivating her deep passions for environmental sustainability and renewable energy, neuroscience and psychology, the law, tennis, and viola.

Daniel Choi artist Daniel Choi is a junior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys watching shows, taking walks, and sleeping.

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