The real winner in the Ozempic craze? Big Pharma

Corporations have a long history of manipulating beauty standards for profit, and now a new weight loss drug is helping pharmaceutical companies succeed. their bag

It is almost impossible to imagine a world without standards of beauty. But although they seem like an inevitable part of life, they do not appear naturally. They are the product of a series of historical and material conditions that promote what we collectively value as a society. And under capitalism, the market’s profit motive means remaining trapped in an endless cycle of constantly fluctuating beauty standards, necessitating BBL one day and Ozempic the next. according to.

The history of companies producing new beauty standards, especially for women, for profit is well documented. In the mid-1910s, Gillette wanted to expand its audience,launched the first razor for women and initiated the expectation that hairless legs and armpits would persist for the next 100 years. Before women’s razors hit the market, there was no cultural expectation that body hair was unhygienic or unattractive. Gillette did not meet the need, it created it as did Loral, the company Introduce a weekly hair washing routineand Helena Rubenstein, who developed the idea of ​​skin types to sell cosmetics.

Standards of beauty for the body have circulated throughout history, and with each of these new beauty ideals that conveniently appear, comes an onslaught of products and services that promise to bring quick results. At the end of the 19th century, women in Paris would vein paint on their arms and necks are blue with markers to make them look more prominent pale and sicka look that would return during the heroin chic trend of the 90s. Meanwhile, dietary supplements marketed to women in the 1950s were achieve a curvier body mirror Similar products to Apetamin promises to help everyone get the slim Kardashian body of the 2010s.

The newest of these is semaglutide, sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy. Despite the growing list of negative side effects such as vomiting and nausea, loss of pleasure, possible stomach paralysis, and possible links to suicidal thoughts and sales Self-harm sales have skyrocketed, sending maker Novo Nordisk’s $413 billion market value into overdrive. the entire GDP of Denmark, the country that owns the company. In fact, Novo Nordisk made so much profit, it pushed up the value of the Danish krone and pushed down mortgage interest rates in the country.

So what has made Ozempics so widely popular as a quick and effective weight loss strategy? Most point to society’s obsession with thinness as the culprit. However, recognizing that the Ozempic mania stems entirely from the need for people to want to be thin, they create a demand for easy weight loss solutions that remember the forest for the trees. After all, with all this social pressure to lose weight, who will gain the weight?

A survey of 1,000 Americans by Consumption amount found that although 24% of people curious about Ozempic attributed their interest in the drug to social media, it still pales in comparison to doctor’s recommendations. 41% of respondents said their interest in Ozempic was referred to them by their doctor. 18% of doctors surveyed reported prescribing medication for weight loss. Perhaps the weight loss obsession is driving not only demand but also the Big Pharma marketing wave behind the renewed interest in semaglutide. In the global capitalist economy, pharmaceutical companies have only one goal: profit.

The idea of ​​pharmaceutical companies putting profits above people is nothing new. Perhaps the most notorious example is found in the opioid epidemic. In 2020, Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the aggressive sale and marketing of opioid drugs. With the support of large consulting firms like McKinsey, Purdue and other pharmaceutical giants, they have flooded the health care system with over-prescribed opioids. Together, they deliberately seek to cut back Doctors hesitated to issue medically unnecessary prescriptions and created a drug crisis that claimed the lives of more than half a million people.

When it comes to weight loss pills, over the years pharmaceutical companies have pushed products such as amphetamine, Obetrol and fen-phen, all of which were later found to have weight loss effects. dangerous, if not deadly, side Effects. Of course, Ozempic has only a fraction of the risks of OxyContin. But are the nefarious marketing tactics behind them really that different? Between partnerships with millennial minimalist telehealth companies, which often lack tracking mechanisms to track side effects, cities like New York are flooded with ads on the sides of cars buses, subway stairs and the company’s own savings card as if it were a coffee loyalty program, the popularity of semaglutides is no coincidence.

Marxist philosopher Guy Debord wrote in his 1967 book that spectacle can subject people to itself because the economy has completely subjugated them. Spectacle Association. In other words, the total control that the capitalist consumer economy exerts over the masses then shifts to control exerted by social spectacles, i.e. mass culture, media mass media, advertising, celebrities to people. It is nothing more than a growing economy unto itself.

The rapid growth of Ozempic and the $78 billion weight loss industry in general is an example of how an economic system built on infinitely expanding demand will eventually permeate every corner. niche in our lives. A capitalist system is therefore encouraged to artificially create demand for those products. In other words, insecurity provides a highly profitable consumer base, not a culture obsessed with thinness that creates a demand for drugs like Ozempic. It was the capitalist system that saw an opportunity to make money and took it.

Huge profits from diet pills have proven insufficient for shareholders. Drugmakers are currently racing to develop a form of semaglutide to make it more palatable to the public, as it is currently only available as an injection, which may disappoint many users. However, the tablet form will likely include a much higher dose of the active ingredient, increasing from 2.4 mg of semaglutide in the current injectable form to 50 mg in the tablet form. Novo Nordisk’s birth control pill clinical trial found that, among users who were overweight or obese but did not have diabetes, 80% reported gastrointestinal problems nearly twice as often as the control group. .

We cannot solve Big Pharma corporate greed or dismantle industries built on sowing insecurity without also addressing the entire capitalist system that creates them.

While modern medicine has made powerful advances in treating a wide variety of conditions, the unfortunate reality of the pharmaceutical industry is that the capitalist system requires it to put profits before people. For example, no one was in a hurry to create different forms of semaglutide when it was just a drug for diabetes, the condition it was originally developed to treat. And if a pharmaceutical company doesn’t drive profits at all costs, it will be beaten by another competitor.

As Marxist sociologist Vivek Chibber argues, capitalists are motivated not by greed but by market pressures. In other words, individual capitalists’ levels of greed may vary widely, but all are subject to the same market pressures of a capitalist system that requires companies to maximize profits. to survive. For this reason, we cannot solve Big Pharma corporate greed or eliminate industries built on sowing insecurity without also addressing the entire capitalist system that has create them.

Capitalism has skewed medical innovations that could change the lives of millions. The use of Ozempic and other forms of semaglutide for weight loss has contributed to supply shortages, making it more difficult for diabetics to fill prescriptions. However, for pharmaceutical companies like Novo Nordisk, the difference is worthless as long as the money stays green. To truly challenge unrealistic and unhealthy beauty standards, we will have to move beyond feel-good advertising campaigns that promote body positivity and instead, must confront the capitalist system that creates these unfair beauty standards in the first place.

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