How weight-loss drugs are affecting health care and food in the United States. Also, the biggest problem with GLP1.

Today’s show is the second in our series about the weight-loss drug revolution of the past two years.

On Tuesday, we talked with endocrinologist Beverly Tchang about the science of glucagons such as GLP1, also known as Ozempic, Wegovy, Moujargo and Zepbound. If you haven’t listened to the show yet, I think you’ll feel safe and entertained within the confines of this episode. But if you want to learn more about how these drugs work, their effects on insulin and glucose and the brain’s reward centers, or the questions they raise about obesity and the nature of willpower and free will, I recommend lining up to watch this show . Today, in part two, we have two guests: Zach Reitano is the CEO and co-founder of telepathy platform Ro. He’s here for several reasons. He has a comprehensive understanding of the GLP1 market, demand growth, supply chains, pricing economics and insurance. He also wrote several illuminating articles, drawing on research from think tanks, medical experts, and investment banks, that helped me understand these drugs and their impact on populations and economies. Our second guest is Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist who spent many years as a pediatrician and researcher at UCSF. As you can hear, he’s less than optimistic about the ability of these drugs to revolutionize obesity medication in the United States.

If you have questions, comments, or ideas for future episodes, please email PlainEnglish@Spotify.com.


In the excerpt below, Derek talks about the impact of the weight loss drug revolution in the United States.

Derek Thompson: Today’s show is the second in our series about the weight loss drug revolution of the past few years. On Tuesday, we talked with endocrinologist Beverly Tchang about the science of glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists (also known as GLP-1 and more commonly known as Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro or Zepbound). If you haven’t listened to the show yet, I think you’ll still feel safe and entertained within the confines of this episode. But if you want to learn more about how these drugs work, their effects on insulin and glucose and the brain’s reward centers, or the questions they raise about the nature of obesity and willpower, I highly recommend lining up to watch this show.

Today, in part two, we have two guests. First, Zach Reitano is the CEO and co-founder of Ro, a telemedicine platform. He’s here for several reasons. First, he has a comprehensive understanding of the GLP-1 market, demand growth, supply chain, pricing economics and insurance. He also wrote several illuminating articles, drawing on research from think tanks, medical experts, and investment banks, that were instrumental in shaping my understanding of these drugs and their impact on populations and economies.

Our second guest is Robert Lustig. Dr. Lustig is an endocrinologist who served for many years as a pediatrician and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco. As you will hear, he will offer a counterpoint to my optimism. He wasn’t so sure that these drugs would revolutionize obesity medication in the United States, and I think that even though I was so optimistic that they would happen, the only way to stay optimistic was to be an educated optimist. Otherwise, I’m just being willfully ignorant. So we’ll hear Dr. Lustig’s case against the biggest possible impact of GLP-1 drugs, although he retains some belief that these drugs will play a significant role in obese people.

First, in this episode, to deepen our understanding of the GLP-1 market, I would like to say a few words about the market size of these drugs. According to Morgan Stanley estimates, about 5 million people in the United States are taking GLP-1 drugs, which are weight loss pills. Four million people take them to treat type 2 diabetes, and about 1 million people take them to lose weight. Now, you might say, that’s not huge, but here’s a way to think about how big this market could be if patients decide if it’s worth sticking with these drugs.

Forty years ago in the 1980s, about 10% of people diagnosed with high blood pressure took medication to treat it. But over the past half century, with advances in angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and other drugs, that number has exploded. Today, tens of millions of Americans are taking blood pressure medications, which have significantly reduced cardiovascular disease mortality.

If GLP-1 follows a similar trajectory, the number of Americans using these drugs could easily triple over the next decade. Health effects are one thing. Reducing obesity rates will clearly reduce many chronic diseases and pain. But what about other industries? What is the impact on food?

Morgan Stanley research and survey data show that patients taking GLP-1 drugs reduced calorie intake by 20% to 30%, while calorie intake decreased by less than 20% across all food groups. Patients taking GLP-1 reduced their consumption of candy, sugary drinks and cookies by 60%. Alcohol consumption has dropped significantly.

So if you work in packaged food and beverage, restaurants, or grocery stores, and you believe that a large portion of your customers are likely to continue using these medications over the next ten years, it’s likely that these medications are anti-snack medications in nature, which How will it change your menu, supply chain and sourcing strategy?

Today we can’t answer what every GLP-1 means; the ripples are too wide. But these are questions that interest me. Then, because I like to check my optimism from time to time, I was happy to be questioned by Dr. Lustig. I’m Derek Thompson.This is simple english.

This excerpt has been edited for clarity.Listen to the rest of the episode here and follow simple english feeding on Spotify.

Host: Derek Thompson
Guests: Zach Reitano and Robert Lustig
Producer: Devin Baroldi

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