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Oprah calls Ozempic 'the easy way out'

Ozempic, a GLP-1 drug, has gained popularity for aiding in weight loss. Oprah Winfrey, who is on the board of WW International (WW), formerly Weight Watchers, declined to use Ozempic when it was suggested to her before knee surgery, expressing her belief that taking the medication was "the easy way out."

Given Oprah's influential position, her remarks carry potential influence over people's perceptions. Interestingly, Weight Watchers has shown interest in entering the GLP-1 industry. In today's top stories, Yahoo Finance's reporter Anjalee Khemlani, Pras Subramanian, and Josh Schafer explore the future of GLP-1 drugs and whether the industry's current challenges may impact their continued relevance.

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Video Transcript

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Of course, you know, we know how much of a big deal Ozempic has been, right, in mainstream. But I saw some interesting stock activity today for Weight Watchers after the one and only Oprah Winfrey just made a comment about her not wanting to basically take the drug when she needed to get knee surgery and then lose some weight for that reason. She said, quote, "If I take the drug, that's the easy way out." And she, you know, really opened up talking about how much shame she has faced and felt in her struggle to lose weight over the years. And I think that's pretty interesting considering she's on the board of Weight Watchers.

We saw that stock take a little bit of a dive on this news. And I don't know that it necessarily makes that big of an impact. We did see one of the analysts saying in a note, quote, "Oprah's comments should not be viewed as the nail in the coffin on GLP-1 drugs, but people do hear what she says."

So the question is, does this then start to symbolize what we see as a broader discussion of, you know, maybe people aren't going to be-- maybe it's not going to be that big a deal six months from now. I've been having this conversation with people. Obviously, you guys know I cover the health beat. So will GLP-1 drugs, will these weight loss drugs be as big a deal six months from now or is it going to be this passing fad once again in, like, weight loss world?

JOSH SCHAFER: Fascinating to me to see Oprah, who is-- I mean, obviously, Oprah is going to speak her mind because she is Oprah, right? But when you think about Weight Watchers, and her being on the board of Weight Watchers, and Weight Watchers' involvement in GLP-1 drugs this year and, kind of, finally taking that turn has meant for the stock. When you take a look at that stock year to date, you see a giant bump in May when they announced that they were going to start getting into that industry.

It's basically the entire reason the stock is up over 100% this year. And there were analysts at the time-- I remember reading notes back in May basically saying like it might have saved Weight Watchers as a company, right? Like, that was-- Weight Watchers needed to get into this business because that's-- at least whether or not everyone is going to be using some form of Ozempic remains to be seen, right, of course. But it is going to be a part of the weight loss discussion. And so it seems like Weight Watchers feels like they need to at least be in that space. So you would think people on the board would also, sort of, be behind that message to some extent.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: I will say that and I'm not a user of the drugs or anything like that, but I know a lot of people in the medical community. And they say these drugs are great, but it should always-- it should be balanced by exercise, proper diet. They go through the whole thing that we've heard for 20, 30 years.

But look, this is almost like a magic in a bottle, right? Like, literally, people will take this and they lose weight. And then it also helps-- I think it was in the same report talking about how some people actually help them with the mental aspect of it, too, not just the physical aspect.

So I feel like this drug-- I don't use it. I feel like it's a big deal and I don't think it's going to go away in my opinion. What do you think?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: I think that it does have a shelf life. Because at the end of the day, you're already seeing reports of people dropping off the drug after some time.


ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Yeah, like after a year or so.


ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Because of the like burden of taking it or they've reached their goal weight. But then what happens is the rebound, right?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: They're going to keep taking it forever, right?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Basically, right. So the cost of it also builds up, right? Insurance isn't paying for it. Employers have stopped paying for it or cut back. There's so many barriers to using it right now.

So that's why, like, until and unless something changes that and it becomes more widely available, I think we're definitely going to be seeing-- and there's also shortages to speak of, right? So there's so much-- there's so much going on with it. I don't know. I think it has a shelf life for right now at least.