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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As obesity rates rise in the U.S. and worldwide, new weight-loss drugs surge in popularity.

Americans have only modest expectations that the new weight-loss drugs – formally known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists – will reduce obesity in the U.S., according to the Center’s new survey. Still, these drugs have taken off in popularity in America, as well as around the world.

Since its 2017 approval as a diabetes treatment, semaglutide (the generic name for Ozempic and its offshoots, Rybelsus and Wegovy) has become one of the most popular prescription drugs in the U.S. It ranked 90th in 2021, the most recent year for which federal data on hundreds of the most commonly prescribed drugs is available. That year, an estimated 8.2 million prescriptions for it were written in the U.S., more than quadruple the number just two years earlier.

Almost 2 million people in the U.S. were taking semaglutide medications in 2021 – more than three times as many as in 2019. (The number of prescriptions exceeds the number of patients because prescription refills and renewals are counted separately.)

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